Apple Loses another Patent in USPTO Preliminary

Apple’s patent lawyers seem to be losing their touch. After losing a patent case in China for the Siri voice recognition software, news has reached that the tech giant had previously lost another patent case on its home turf in the US. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has denied a trademark application filed by Apple’s patent lawyers  for the trademark name “Touch ID” that Apple uses for its fingerprint recognition technology used in its phones and iOS devices.

The USPTO ruling cites that another company Kronos Technology has a trademark for the same technology. The USPTO had reportedly sent a letter rejecting the plea to Apple’s offices in May 2014, but the news has only just trickled into the mainstream knowledge.

Apple loses again with the patent police.

Apple loses again with the patent police.

USPTO perceives a likelihood of confusion

THE USPTO published the letter that it had originally sent to Apple and made the news public after a two month delay. The USPTO has a solid and pretty valid reason for rejecting the trademark plea and according to the letter the patent office has published, there was supposed to be a likelihood of confusion between the trademarked technology owned by Kronos and the Touch ID from Apple. Kronos’ trademark is registered with the patent office with the number US Registration No. 2735480.

In the letter, which is also available on Patently Apple – the website which follows Apple’s patents and technology updates -, the USPTO has clearly stated that under the Trademark Act Section 2(d) the patent office is barred from registering a trademark that has been applied for, if the trademark resembles an already registered mark to the extent that a potential customer may get confused or deceived by the same trademark applying to two different devices or goods.

If there is any ‘likelihood of confusion’ that a customer may be confused or deceived as to the origin of the goods and make a mistake between the goods/services of the applicant and the registrant – in this case Apple, and Kronos –  then the USPTO has no choice but to rule against the newly  applied for patent or trademark. In this particular case of Apple and Kronos, the trademarks applied for are same. So are the goods or services being provided by the two companies, and the trade channels that would be used to market the goods/services.

Apple has six months to reply

The fingerprint recognition technology used by Kronos is called “Kronos Touch ID”. The USPTO is of the opinion that just by changing the name of the trademark by dropping the ‘Kronos’ from it, Apple cannot guarantee there will not be a confusion in the market. This is research that Apple’s patent lawyers seem to have forgotten to do before they filed their application. The USPTO has also brought to notice the ‘infinite wording’ practice that Apple’s patent lawyers seem to be in a habit of using in their patent applications.

Touch ID - Apple

Touch ID – Apple

Playing with words

When filing an application, the applicant is supposed to use the common commercial or generic names of the goods for which the patent is sought. But Apple’s patent lawyers usually file an application by using infinite words and phrases and not sticking to common specifics. Indefinite words such as “accessories,” “components,” “devices,” “equipment,” “materials,” “parts,” “systems” or “products,” have to be followed up a list of the specific goods and their common or commercial names.

Apple still a huge contributor to humankind

But the tech giant’s patents all flout this rule as a habit. In spite of this, the uniqueness of its technology has won Apple many patents but this annoying habit cannot be hidden by an overdose of innovation.

In the case of the Touch ID trademark, Apple’s patent lawyers have six months to come up with a remedy or risk abandoning the application.