Will Apple Keep the iPad Mini to Itself?

ipad mini 1Early in January, the United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) request to trademark the brand name “iPad Mini,” basing the decision upon its objection to the use of the term “mini,” as the device was not divergent enough from the original iPad trademark. In their words, the trademark was not approved because of its “merely descriptive” nature. But the USPTO attorney who original examined the case has reversed her decision.

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In an office action filed last week, the patent office withdrew its primary objections, stating that that trademark’s use of the term “mini” was necessary for Apple to move forward with its innovative process, according to AppleInsider.

“This Office action supersedes any previous Office action issued in connection with this application. Upon further review of the application, the examining attorney has determined that the following refusal issued in the initial Office action should be withdrawn. The examining attorney apologizes for any inconvenience caused,” stated the document, acquired by MacRumors.

It is still unclear why the examining attorney changed her earlier decision…

However, the patent office, according to the filed document, may still deny Apple’s “iPad mini” trademark bid if currently pending patent applications that contain the term “mini” are granted. The submissions that were filed before the iPad mini that used the same term cover eight devices from a variety of electronics manufacturers — including Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) Galaxy Mini. All eight requests seek a “mini” trademark like Apple.

Whether the patent is granted is also dependent on Apple’s willingness to agree to provide a disclaimer that reads, “No claim is made to the exclusive right to use ‘MINI’ apart from the mark as shown,” to its application.

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This request for the standardized note from the USPTO is based on the reasons the office rejected the application when it was originally submitted. The examining attorney determined that Apple’s use of “mini” described only a small sized handheld tablet computer,” and did not constitute “a unitary mark with a unique, incongruous, or otherwise nondescriptive meaning in relation to the goods and/or services.” The document also noted that the specimen images that Apple used for its application, which were lifted from the product’s webpage, were not “not acceptable to show trademark use as a display associated with the goods.” The recently updated Office action discarded the refusal on both accounts.

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