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Apple Applies For Trade Mark of the Term ‘Startup’

By 1 November 2013General Law

The present trade mark application is labeled Application 1576935, and is now listed as “indexing approved” and due for examination before November. After November examination and if the findings are favourable and published, the trade mark application will proceed to the next stage and be changed to “accepted and advertised”.

If the application eventually does become successful, Apple would have the exclusive right to the word ‘Startup’ in various retail, computing, mobile and educational areas. This will cover the following services:

  • Retail store services. Featuring computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, consumer electronic devices and demonstration of products relating thereto;
  • Educational services. conducting classes, workshops, conferences and seminars in the field of computers, computer software and other computer-related services;
  • Consultation services. Consulting services in the field of maintenance of computer hardware, computer peripherals, and consumer electronic devices; and
  • Troubleshooting  services. Troubleshooting of computer hardware and software problems; installation, maintenance and updating of computer software; technological consultancy services in the field of computers … computer diagnostic services; computer data recovery”.

The Opposition

The move of Apple to trade mark the term “startup” has enraged the members of the local start-up community. According to Scott Handsaker, founder and Chief Executive of Attendly and community group Startup Victoria, said, “It’s such a disappointing move from Apple to attempt to trade mark a word that is in common usage amongst the entrepreneurial community,”.

If Handsaker and his group wishes to oppose  the trade mark application, Handsaker will have to file a Notice of Intention to Oppose stating the grounds for the opposition and pay a $250 application fee.

The reason for the opposition must be any of the following:

  • The trade mark is identical or very similar to another registered or pending trade mark (Section 44) or an international registration that is seeking or has gained protection in Australia (regulation 4.15A);
  • The trade mark is a deception or will likely create confusion because of the reputation of another trade mark in Australia (Section 60); and
  • The trade mark applicant is not the true owner of the trade mark (Section 58).

What Is a Trade Mark? 

A trade mark can be a word, letter, number, phrase, sound, smell, shape, logo, picture or a combination of letters and numbers. This also includes the packaging style and designs to distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another. When granted, the owner will have the exclusive right to use, license, see and enjoy the mark for commercial purposes.

Most businesses view trade marks as a valuable, intangible asset of the company. The greater the reputation of the company, the higher the value of the assets becomes. That is why, it has become important to businesses to preserve the integrity of the company name, and any affiliated trade marks.

A lot of the value of a trade mark is contained in the good will of the brand. Each trade mark speaks to a consumer, it tells a consumer that this product or service is separate and distinct from another, and belongs to a particular merchant. A trade mark also means a merchant is instantly recognisable, the shape of a bottle, logo or a particular slogan instantly brings to mind that brand, and the services which it is known for.

Duration of a Trade Mark

A registered trademark may be identified by the abbreviation ‘TM’, or the ‘®’ symbol. It is illegal to use the ® symbol unless the trade mark has been registered. A trade mark can last for life if it has proven, and significant business value. The initial life upon registration of a trade mark is for 10 years, which can be renewed continuously, so long as a business is using the mark.

Crazy words and phrases that has been granted trade mark

Below is a few interesting and unusual terms that have been granted trade marks:

  • Jane’s Addiction frontman, Perry Farrell, successfully trade marked  the word “lollapalooza” despite the fact that the word had existed for about 100 years before his alternative rock festival of the same name started out in the ’90s.
  • The most famous boxing bout announcer, Michael Buffer, have been granted trade mark of the phrase “Let’s get ready to rumble;”
  • Dave Hester from A&E’s reality show Storage Wars not only has a trademark on the word “YUUUP!” but is actually involved in a bitter legal battle over it with rapper Trey Songz, who claims that he’s been yupping people since at least 2009;
  • Ryan Lochte, an American competitive swimmer and an eleven-time Olympic medalist has recently put in a trademark request for the word “Jeah.”

Need help to apply for Trade Mark?

Trade mark is a highly specialised area of law, whilst many people choose to do it themselves, it often leaves them open to disputes, or the trade mark fails to properly cover their requirements. It is important to protect the good will associated with your brand, and contact a solicitor to ensure that your brand is protected properly.