Eagle-eyed viewers spotted something oddly familiar during Samsung’s CES keynote Monday. On a slide regarding Samsung Pass, its new biometric “identity management as-a-service” product, Samsung included a logo that looks (to be polite) “borrowed” from Apple’s Face ID.
Yes, this not-quite-identical logo is the latest chapter in Samsung being, err, inspired by Apple designs. But should Apple be firing up its on-call lawyers for an easy win over Samsung? Legally speaking, things might be a bit more complicated than they initially seem.
The iPod touch hasn’t been updated in three-and-a-half years, the longest period in the product’s history without an upgrade. However, a recent trademark application from Apple gives the slightest hope that its touchscreen music player could have a future.
That’s because Apple has extended the trademark coverage for “iPod touch” to include “Hand-held units for playing electronic games; Handheld game consoles.” While there have long been games available on the iPod touch, this hints that Apple could see gaming as a future primary category for the product to exist in.
If you use Luxogram, or Webstagram, or any other Instagram compatible app, prepare yourself for the possibility of some change. Instagram has started approaching app developers and services, telling them that if they have “Insta-” or “-gram” in their names that they can expect to have their access to the Instagram stream cut off.
In the United States, Apple vigorously protects their treasured founder, Steve Jobs, from the sort of jackals and graverobbers who want to steal his likeness, name or other rights to make a quick buck. Let’s hope Apple has the same pull in Turkey, because someone there has managed to slip a “Steve Jobs” trademark through the Turkish patent office.
When a company like Apple is getting sued every other week, there’s no telling what they will and won’t try to patent and trademark in an attempt to protect their intellectual property. Apple already holds a patent on rectangles with rounded corners, and their latest trademark gives Apple exclusive use of the word “Retina.”
On December 4, 2012, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple two Registered Trademarks. One trademark covers the word “Retina” while the second trademark covers Apple’s Game Center icon.
What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. Apple gives other companies a lot of flack for ripping off their intellectual property, but in iOS 6, they ripped off the design of a classic clock designed by Hans Hilfiker which has been both trademarked and copyrighted by the Swiss Federal Railway Service.
It seems unlikely that the transgression was willful, but it was still sloppy of Apple to not do their due dilligence when it came to researching the clock, or seeing if its design was trademarked.
Luckily, Apple has now chosen to do the right thing, having reached out to to the Swiss Federal Railway Service, who today announced that the companies have signed a licensing deal for the famous clock. It’s unknown what the terms are, but it’s good to see Cupertino do the right thing here.
Now that Apple has paid $60 million to end a thuggish extortion attempt on the part of China’s Proview over the iPad trademark, it looks like at least one additional Chinese trademark troll is coming out of the woodwork, looking for a payday. This time, however, it’s a dispute over a product Apple doesn’t even sell anymore: OS X Snow Leopard.
Products can be too popular for their own good. Take zipper, for example. Today, it’s used as a generic term for the interlocking steel teeth that keep you from exposing yourself to the public, but in the 1920’s, it was a distinct brand: the Zipper, invented and marketed by B.F. Goodrich, which was such a successful alternative to the boring old button that it lost its capital ‘Z’ in the mind of the public and became a generic term that lost its trademark… and once it lost its trademark, anyone could call their rip-off product a “zipper” as if it was the real thing.
It’s a very real issue that many companies spend a good deal of money on every year. They want their brand to be synonymous with a certain type of product, but they don’t want it to be so synonymous that they lose ownership of the brand. And it’s why, if you like, say, Jell-O, or Xerox, or Kleenex, you shouldn’t refer to similar products from another company by the same name.
Over at The News Virginian, there’s an interesting think piece by AP writer Mae Anderson if the same thing could happen to the iPad. It’s a great read on the history of trademarks becoming generic, but it’s not really very likely to happen to the iPad. Here’s why.