Battle of the iPads Resolved

Posted on April 21, 2010

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As previously discussed in my March 3rd blog post, the iPad name posed a problem for Apple because Fujitsu owned a pending trademark application for a product with the same name. It was my contention then that a settlement would likely be reached due to Apple’s deep pockets. As it turns out, this was correct. I am feeling déjà vu in this instance because Apple also obtained control of the iPhone name from Cisco right before the iPhone went on sale in 2007.

Since the date of my posting, Apple has managed to obtain ownership of the name for its latest digital device. Fujitsu assigned Apple all of its rights in the iPad trademark Serial Number 76497338 on March 17, 2010.  This assignment was presumably in exchange for some very generous consideration given by Apple to Fujitsu, although the exact number and details of the settlement were not released and may remain confidential indefinitely.  This settlement occurred in the nick of time in that it was only a little more than two weeks before the innovative and cutting-edge tablet officially went on sale in the United States.

The trademark assigned to Apple is for a “hand-held computing device for wireless networking in a retail environment.” This is a limited description of the goods the mark covers. The reason for this is that objections were raised by the Trademark Office when Fujitsu filed because of Magtek’s earlier trademark and Fujitsu narrowed its coverage to hand held units for retail as a result.  Therefore, Apple’s trademark covers use for those goods only. Ideally, Apple would certainly like to have trademarks in place for the iPad name with a broader range of goods.

The current status of the trademark application is listed as “application has been published for opposition.” It has not yet been registered on the Principal Register, although that is the next step after publication.  There are other trademarks currently registered for the name iPad, namely (i) Seimens iPad for engines, not for land vehicles, electric motors for machines and electric starter motors, namely, driving gears and programmable electrical drives for controlling machines used in the field of medical, automotive and aerospace technology, building services, engineering and industrial automation; low voltage and medium voltage variable frequency drives for control of motors (ii) Coconut Grove Pads iPad for bras, lingerie, panties and pads for use in bras and (iii) Mag-Tek’s iPad for keypads for entry of personal identification numbers in e-commerce.  These parties only have a few more days to file an objection if they believe they will be harmed by the registration.

Elizabeth Ritter, Goodrich Law Firm

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