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[dupe] Apple attempts to trademark the word 'startup' (zd.net)
99 points by rukshn 1398 days ago | hide | past | web | 41 comments | favorite

Well, haven't they trademarked the word "Apple", which actually is just a name of the fruit? 20 years from now kids will think the fruit was named after the iPhone logo.

What is the world coming to when a company can trademark an everyday word. Next thing you know someone will trademark blackberry, palm, yahoo, android, oracle or amazon. Quick, to the outragemobile!

I prefer sarcasmobile.

But so had Apple Corps (owner of Apple Records, the Beatles record label). They came to a financial arrangement and let Apple Computer use it as long as they didn't make anything related to music...


And then they created iTunes :)

Apple has done so many stupid things in the last 2 years, i doubt we will use iPhones in 20 years.

No more than any other business. It's just confirmation bias that makes it seem that way to you perhaps.

It appears that they want to trademark the term "startup" for some kind of service to help new Mac owners get started with their Mac, etc. Possibly a rebranding of their "one-to-one" service.

I think I'm going to trademark "software".

Don't forget Code ®, Application © and Program ™

It would be ironic if the company that used to be the iconic "two guys in a garage" success story cheapened the word startup.

"I started working at a startup last week. Before you ask, no, I don't sell iPads."

This was just posted a couple of hours ago[1]. Some things to note that were brought up there:

- Apple already filed for this trademark in 2011 in the US and China.[2] They were granted a preliminary trademark pending a routine examination period where people can object to the trademark. The objection window began in 2012[3] and objections were filed. In March of this year, the USPTO mailed a "non final action" to Apple, starting a 6 month window in which Apple gets to respond to the objections. That window apparently closes next month.[4]

- The trademark filed in Australia is under the same international registration as the ones in the US and China filed in 2011: 1081614. The international registration is important to this particular case because it's Apple exercising its rights under the Madrid System[5][6], which allows companies to secure their trademarks in any Madrid Union member state by filing a simple application. Australia, China, and the US are all Madrid Union member states.[7]

- It's specifically for "Retail store services featuring computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, and consumer electronic devices, and demonstration of products relating thereto", indicating Apple intends to launch some sort of retail service called "Apple Startup" or similar.

- With a few exceptions[8], trademarks are restricted to the areas covered in the application. Assuming Apple is granted the trademark, it does not mean that they now own the word "Startup".

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6288217

[2]: http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2011/04/apple-fi...

[3]: http://trademarks.justia.com/852/96/startup-85296886.html

[4]: http://www.trademarkia.com/startup-85296886.html

[5]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madrid_system

[6]: http://www.wipo.int/madrid/en/

[7]: http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/treaties/en/documents/p...

[8]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6288395

> Assuming Apple is granted the trademark, it does not mean that they now own the word "Startup".

They already pretend they own the word "apple" and any logos of apples, even when they are not used by tech-related companies. I wouldn't put it past them to continue being a bully as they accumulate more words and symbols that they think they "own".

They have fought food stores for use of an apple. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111022/01124516464/apple...

The problem, I think, is that trademarks, once registered, create a pressure to enforce. So if you register a trademark you must be willing to widely enforce it. If you don't enforce it you risk losing it, and so you enforce as widely as you can. If they want to trademark "Apple Startup" no objections but "Startup" is dangerous.

This being said, if I got a call from their attorneys on this, I would be sorely tempted to respond with something like:

"We are a business startup and will consider your request. At the moment though I am eating an apple, while writing something up in EMACS though not on an eMac. I will call you back in a few from my Linksys iPhone."

It is absolutely untrue that you risk losing a mark if you do not enforce it widely. There is an obligation to enforce against third party uses which would undermine the distinctiveness of the mark/confuse the public, however not every third party use falls in this category.

Many uses will be completely acceptable and if you do not enforce against them you will not lose your right to enforce against unacceptable uses.

Unfortunately, anyone's future use of startup, where startup is in the same position of the product name/feature will be subject to threats and such. After all, if the product is successful at Apple the only possible reason someone else used startup in a name is because of Apple.

As in, their lawyers won't think twice trying to intimidate someone and will most likely knee jerk react to every use.

I agree that there is a risk that all uses will be pursued and as you allude to, potential damage to a brand is in the eye of the beholder. However you're making a leap from a use which could conceivably harm the distinctiveness of a mark to taking action against every use and appear to attribute this to the lawyers' over-eagerness.

In my experience, most lawyers are reasonable people who will understand the limits of a trade mark better than anyone else. It's often the commercial people who are telling the lawyers to pursue an infringement against the lawyer's advice.

> It is absolutely untrue that you risk losing a mark if you do not enforce it widely. There is an obligation to enforce against third party uses which would undermine the distinctiveness of the mark/confuse the public, however not every third party use falls in this category.

Actually you only have to enforce it in the cases where someone else might argue undermines your trademark, which is far wider.

I hardly see a reason for panic. Apple having the trademark for the word "Apple" doesn't stop any apple seller from slapping the word "Apple" on every box of apples. As long as a word is used for descriptive purposes it is not violating trademarks.

No startup will ever use the word "startup" in its trademark.

'No startup will ever use the word "startup" in its trademark.'

Says who?

Unless you’re a company catering to startups, the association is a temporary one. You either become a grown up company (in which having ‘startup’ in your name is silly), you get bought out (in which the name disappears), or you go bust. There is no such thing as a permanent startup.

Yes, it's not like they've threatened anyone for using an apple in their logo before. Oh wait... https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111022/01124516464/apple...

Hello, Mr. Cook, yes, yes, your EA here. No, no, you heard me right, God, Sir Isaac Newton and John Lennon are on the line.

No, no. I don't know who reports to who. Do you want me to guess?

What's it about? uh, let me ask.

Ok. they say they've trademarked 'Apple' and want to talk about a license

Oh, ok. Can you ask them if Steve can also join the call?

Are there laws that prevent legal entities from trademarking commonly-used words? I mean, if you invent some word for your product, you have the right to copy it. But "startup"? What would stop people from trademarking "the" and "computer"? I may be missing the point or interpreting the law incorrectly though - please correct me.

Anyone is free to apply for a trademark for "the" or "computer". The applications would be promptly denied - well, promptly for a government bureaucracy.

You can trade mark any word if it is sufficiently distinctive and can uniquely identify you as the provider of that product and/or services. For example 'Computer' for canned goods would be fine, but obviously registering 'Computer' for computers themselves would not be distinctive.

You can also only enforce your mark against someone using a mark in the course of business (at least in the UK) which would obviously exclude a whole range of potential third party uses.

Perhaps Apple are launching a new technology/device/API called "Startup" on Sept 10? ;-)

This could be a defensive filing in preparation for one more thing...

The new Apple iStartup, just like every other online photo sharing startup, but now shiny, thin, and twice as expensive as Instagram or Groupon.

Can they even do this?

That depends on who reads the application. The history of patents, copyrights and trademarks demonstrates that the outcome is more a matter of circumstances than logic.

is it possible to trademark such type of words?

startups are FUCKED

Serious... :s

Are they even sane?


This is pathetic. Not going to happen, never, ever.

It's pretty specific to support services... I don't see how this is even contentious.

Who uses the term "startup" anyway? (in a business context)

StartupBus? Startup Weekend? Startup Riot?

A google maps search suggest a lot of accountants do.

Startup incubators?

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