Apple’s desire to control the letter ‘i’ takes a hit

Mon, Mar 22, 2010

Legal, News

The Sydney Morning Hearld reports that Apple recently lost a trademark dispute with a company called DOPi that specializes in manufacturing laptop bags and cases for Apple products. DOPi, if you’re not up on wordplay, is iPod spelled backwards, and that coupled with the conspicuous use of the lower case ‘i’ prompted Apple to file suit with the Australian Trademarks Office claiming that the company name is liable lead to customer confusion.

The Trademark Office, however, disagreed. Under the governing law, Apple had to prove that a man of ordinary intelligence would have “cause to wonder” whether or not a DOPi product was in fact manufactured by Apple. Moreover, there has to be a “real tangible danger of deception or confusion” – the mere possibility or potential that some might be confused is not sufficient.

The registrar overseeing the case Michael Kirov, who confessed to being a tech head and a fan of Apple’s products, judged that Apple failed to demonstrate that a “person of ordinary intelligence and memory” would automatically assume that just because a product carries the letter “i” it is an Apple product.

In the end, it’s good that Apple lost this case, and while some might be quick to jump on Apple for going after small companies like DOPi in the first place, the reality is that if large companies like Apple don’t actively seek to protect their trademarks, they’re more likely to lose them. As ridiculous as it sounds, and there’s no way to know if that’s what happened here, but a large company sometimes just has to go through the motions.


1 Comments For This Post

  1. macs Says:

    I always find it funny when companies like apple try to defend ridiculous trademarks such as a lower case letter of the alphabet. Or somehow how try to patent a law of nature Power = voltage * current. Especially when they continue to violate other patents. Somehow I think HTC’s worldwide ‘touch’ trademark could be used as a weapon in the up and coming Apple v HTC patent case.

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