Apple Trade-marks: iTunes and iCloud


iphonelogo.gifApple Inc. has a well-known family of iMarks registered in Canada, the US and around the world, including iTunes, iMac, iPhone, iPod and iPad. In Canada, it has even applied to register the iPad screen as a trade-mark under Application No. 1488599 (the IPAD TRADE DRESS ICON SCREEN Design) as well as the iPhone graphic (shown at right), under Application No. 1481515.

  • The latest addition to the family is the iCloud mark. In the US, a company called iCloud Communications has sued Apple for alleged trade-mark infringement in the US District Court in Arizona. (See a copy of the Complaint Here). iCloud imagescawb2rqk.jpgCommunications claims use since 2005, though it does not have any registered marks. Prior to launching its new iCloud service, Apple bought the domain name from Xcerion AB, a Swedish cloud-computing company, and there’s a pretty good bet that Apple has also acquired Xcerion’s registered US mark for ICLOUD which claims a priority date of November 29, 2007, for use with information management software.  Though the registration is still in the name of Xcerion, an Apple inhouse lawyer is named as the attorney of record. This strategic acquisition would allow Apple to rely on the earlier use claimed by this mark.
  • In a recent Canadian case, Apple was the earlier user – in this case, it used its family of registered iTunes marks to oppose the application for the mark TUNECARDZ by Digi Media Cardz Inc., a BC company, for use with collectible cards allowing the card owner to download music. In the decision released by the Trade-marks Opposition Board (TMOB) (Apple Inc. v Digi Media Cardz Inc., 2011 TMOB 72 ), Apple prevailed by showing confusion between TUNECARDZ and its registered Canadian marks ITUNES and ITUNES MUSIC CARD for music downloads.

Apple has a long history of fighting strategic trade-mark battles, including for its core brand APPLE, starting in 1978, against Apple Records), against Cisco for its now-iconic iPhone trade-mark , and against Fujitsu, for the iPad trade-mark. Lessons for business? In many of these cases, the mark was already owned by someone else when Apple decided it was going to be an Apple brand.  This history is, in many ways, a reflection of the company’s approach to business: they did not invent tablet computing, smartphones, online music sales or the MP3 player. They simply stepped in, elbowed the early movers aside, and took over the top position. 

Calgary – 07:00 MT

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