iPad Mini Trademark Closer to Reality with Several Objections Removed

By Steve Anderson April 08, 2013

What a difference a week makes! Where just last week, Apple was facing down some bad news from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) over the ability to trademark the term "iPad Mini"--the USPTO said that it was more descriptive than anything--the new business week starts on a high note for Apple, as the primary objection to Apple's use of iPad Mini as a trademark was removed by the USPTO.

The office action, which removed most of the objections, showed that most of the problem had been solved at the agency level, and that Apple now doesn't need to do much by way of response to the whole issue. The office action said several of the refusals--specifically, those relating to the Trademark Act Section 2 (e) (1), of descriptiveness refusal, and those relating to Sections 1 and 45, of specimen refusal--"should be withdrawn." Further, the examining attorney involved "apologizes for any inconvenience caused."

While this is certainly excellent news for Apple, Apple is not out of the woods yet as far as trademarks go. The newest office action describes one significant potential problem for Apple coming up, especially should other companies--particularly those with pending applications which arrived before the iPad Mini--come seeking trademark protection for their own products containing the word "mini." Further, the office action expressed a requirement that Apple should add a disclaimer, saying that it only wants to protect the term "mini" as it relates to the iPad, making "iPad" and "iPad Mini" trademarks as opposed to any combination of "iPad" and "mini." This opens up other companies to use "mini" in their own products and pulls most of the objection.

It was a pretty safe bet that Apple would be able to get the term "iPad Mini" trademarked. After all, it has its own distinctiveness as it is--the iPad is widely known and certainly isn't a generic term--and the idea of trademarking "iPad Mini" really shouldn't have been much of a problem. The USPTO, however, certainly has a point that trying to trademark "mini" by itself would be going too far, though on the surface, that doesn't seem to have ever been Apple's intent.

With a few minor tweaks, things are looking very good indeed for Apple on the trademark front, and should find everything taken care of in short order. The idea of a trademarked iPad Mini should be coming about fairly soon, and give Apple a little extra peace of mind in the market.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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