On January 9, 2007, the same day Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone, Apple filed a trademark application for the phrase “multitouch”. Now, nearly 5 years later, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has conclusively denied Apple’s efforts in securing that trademark.
The ruling comes courtesy of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the USPTO and marks an end to Apple’s appellate efforts.
Though Apple submitted evidence bolstering its claims that multitouch is a distinctive phrase borne out of Apple’s efforts with the iPhone, the appellate board wasn’t persuaded. Part of Apple’s appeal included evidence showcasing the success of the iPhone and high sales figures that presumably have made multitouch a household name.
To that end, the appeals board stated:
The applied for mark is not iPhone, it is Multi-Touch. Thus, applicant’s evidence pertaining to the success, sales volume and, to a limited extent, advertising expenditures of the iPhone, is not helpful in establishing that the purchasing public associates the term MULTI-TOUCH with applicant.
The board further states that Apple has never used the term ‘multi-touch’ on any of its iOS packaging and that Apple’s reference to the technology primarily took place on its own website.
In short, Apple was able to prove the term was adequately descriptive yet lacked distinctiveness to associate it uniquely to Apple’s iOS products.
MacRumors has posted the board’s full decision for your reading enjoyment up on Scribd.