Everyone knows the app iBooks. The app that allows you to put ebooks on your Mac, iPhone or iPad.
Instantly recognizable. But the disadvantage of these kind of trademarks is that these trademarks directly informs us about the function or character of the product. Since long ago, the addition of the letter “i” is not sufficient to add distinctive power. So, quite often (at least in Europe) these kind of trademark applications of Apple are facing refusals on absolute grounds. A dead end? No, as a descriptive trademarks can acquire distinctiveness.
And that’s exactly what happened with the trademark iBooks Store. The OHIM refused this trademark because it was too descriptive. Apple filed a defense. Partly because Apple found that the mark could function as a trademark. Secondly, because this trademark has become distinctive.
Now the OHIM had a new look into the file and it has come to the conclusion that iBooks Store is still too descriptive. The letter i is generally explained as an abbreviation of internet. Book Store is, well, a book store. So the whole mark will be perceived as an internet book store. The fact that this word can have multiple meanings does not matter, as long as one of the meanings is descriptive.
But, the application is accepted at the end. The OHIM recognizes the acquired distinctiveness of the mark. Probably Apple will now face a new hurdle, as a Danish company earlier filed an opposition against the application iBooks of Apple on the basis of its Danish trademark ibog (ibook in Danish).
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“Trademark protection gives freedom to do business.”