Apple loses Swiss iPhone trademark appeal

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Apple’s appeal for reconsideration of its trademark application for the word “iPhone” has been rejected by the Swiss Federal Administrative Court, which maintained that the term is a non-distinctive word for which Apple could not be granted a trademark.

Apple first applied to the Swiss Trademark Office for the trademark in September 2006; it was turned down by the institute in September last year. The trademark office argued that the “i” in “iPhone” will be taken by consumers to mean that it stands for the Internet and that the name could be used to describe any phone with Internet capabilities.

Apple then appealed to the Swiss Federal Administrative Court, citing past instances where it had been granted trademarks for product names that began with “i” and insisted that the letter stood for several other things that the iPhone was capable of. The court denied Apple’s appeal on the grounds that the word “phone” is too generic a term and the addition of the letter “i” does not make it distinctive enough to be trademarked.

All hope is not lost for Apple, however, as the company has now appealed to the Swiss Federal Supreme Court. Whatever decision the supreme court arrives at will be final and binding, meaning there’s still a chance for Apple to walk away with the trademark. Then, presumably, the battle begins anew for “iPad.”

[Tip of the hat to Ole Teucher for providing assistance with translating several documents pertaining to the case written in German.]

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