Will the iPad Mini Lose Its Exclusivity?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has told Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) that the company cannot trademark the name for the iPad Mini, citing that the word ‘mini’ is a ”merely descriptive” term used for products and services.

A letter sent to Apple back in January (which was only published recently) described the decision to deny the motion based on the reasoning that the name “iPad” is descriptive of the product in and of itself, with the “i” referring to Internet-related services, CNET reported. Additionally, “mini” simply describes the smaller nature of the device in comparison with its older siblings. The “[combination of] descriptive terms that retain their descriptive meaning in relation to goods or services” are not registrable, CNET said. Apple already owns the trademark for the ‘iPad’ name.

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“In this case, both the individual components and the composite result are descriptive of applicant’s goods and do not create a unique, incongruous, or non-descriptive meaning in relation to the goods being small handheld mobile devices comprising tablet computers capable of providing Internet access,” the office said.

Apple has the chance to appeal the decision, but will need to successfully argue the points of the office’s decision.

The reviewer of the case also noted that the term “mini” was already in widespread use online to describe the small size of various handheld digital devices, and that “the wording merely describes a feature of applicant’s goods, namely, a small sized handheld tablet computer,” CNET said.

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The Mac Mini, Apple’s only other product with ‘Mini’ in the name, is not registered in the USPTO’s database or on Apple’s list of trademarks, Computerworld added. Several news outlets including Forbes and TechCrunch noted that there were a few statements in the decision that raised some eyebrows. One such statement was that the likelihood that the iPad Mini name would be easily confused with the new iPad mini app, which as TechCrunch said, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and indicates that aspects in the decision will likely be revisited as the case moves forward. 

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