The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple's bid to trademark the term "iPad Mini," contending that "mini" is "merely descriptive" of goods or services sold in miniature form.
In a letter sent to Apple in January but only recently published, the USPTO reviewer denied Apple's application because "the applied-for mark merely describes a feature or characteristic of applicant's goods." Apple can appeal the decision, but to win a reversal the company will need to address the office's reasons for denial.
The reviewer argues that "iPad" is descriptive of the products services, specifically that the "i" denotes Internet-related services, while "mini" describes the product as a distinctly smaller version of similar products. Marks that combine descriptive terms that retain their descriptive meaning in relation to goods or services are composite marks that are not registrable, the letter states (see below).
"In this case, both the individual components and the composite result are descriptive of applicant's goods and do not create a unique, incongruous, or non-descriptive meaning in relation to the goods being small handheld mobile devices comprising tablet computers capable of providing Internet access," the office said.
The reviewer also found evidence from the Internet showing that widespread use of the term "mini" to describe the small size of various handheld digital devices, and that "the wording merely describes a feature of applicant's goods, namely, a small sized handheld tablet computer.
CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we learn more.
Apple filed a trademark application last November for a "handheld mobile digital electronic device comprising a tablet computer, electronic book and periodical reader, digital audio and video player, camera, electronic personal organizer, personal digital assistant, electronic calendar, and mapping and global positioning system (GPS) device, and capable of providing access to the Internet and sending, receiving, and storing messages and other data."