Apple’s Touch ID trademark rejected by USPTO

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has formally refused Apple’s trademark application for “Touch ID,”  based on the “likelihood of confusion” with a similar trademark. Apple’s would-be mark was too similar to U.S. Registration No. 2,735,480 for “Kronos Touch ID,” registered July 8th, 2003. 

According to Patently Apple, the rejection letter was sent to Apple two months ago, but only made public a few days ago. Apple has six months to reply to the USPTO with a workaround solution or it risks trademark abandonment. At this point, it is not clear if the iPhone maker has followed through with a response.

It will be interesting to see how Apple responds, given that the company is likely expanding its Touch ID fingerprint scanner to other iOS devices later this year. The similarity in appearance and sound between Apple’s attempted mark and the registrant’s mark could prove to be a difficult challenge to overcome.

Patently Apple elaborates:

“The mere deletion of wording from a registered mark may not be sufficient to overcome a likelihood of confusion. Applicant’s mark does not create a distinct commercial impression because it contains the same common wording as the registered mark, and there is no other wording to distinguish it from the registered mark. In this case, applicant’s mark merely deletes “KRONOS” from the registered mark.”

The report calls Apple’s use of an “infinite word” practice into question, suggesting that the company using indefinite words and phrases such as “accessories” and “devices” did not help its cause.

Apple has until November to make a move, which could involve making Kronos an offer that it can’t refuse for ownership of the trademark. A more unlikely move would be simply renaming Touch ID.