Back when the iPhone was first released Apple applied for the ‘multi-touch’ trademark, which was declined by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in the US’s Patent and Trademark Office. USPTO argued that the term is too well used, MacRumors posted this about the case:

For trademarks, “the greater the degree of descriptiveness the term has, the heavier the burden to prove it has attained secondary meaning.” The trademark attorney pointed out that the term “multitouch” has taken on generic meaning, being used by a wide variety of publications to describe the touchscreen technology on Andriod phones, tablets, and notebooks.

To be honest, when you think about it, this was a silly thing to do on Apple’s behalf especially since nearly every company already uses it, there would be a lot of paperwork. A lawyer spoke for USPTO explaining the decision:

Thus, from the foregoing, we find that “multi-touch” not only identifies the technology, but also describes how a user of the goods operates the device. Based on the evidence discussed above, as well as other evidence in the record, we agree with the examining attorney that MULTI-TOUCH indeed is highly descriptive of a feature of the identified goods. We now consider whether applicant has submitted sufficient evidence to establish acquired distinctiveness of this highly descriptive term.

If you want to check out the lawyers full quote head on over to Scribd, where you can read the full decision.

What do you think? Does Apple have the right to own the trademark ‘multi-touch’?

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