A letter dated January 24, 2013 from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reveals that it has rejected Apple's trademark application for the iPad mini on the grounds that it is “merely descriptive” and does not offer a unique meaning. 

USPTO, in its letter, has confirmed that Apple had indeed applied for registering the mark iPad mini for “handheld mobile digital electronic device comprising a tablet computer, electronic book and periodical reader, digital audio and video player, camera, electronic personal organizer, personal digital assistant, electronic calendar, and mapping and global positioning system (GPS) device, and capable of providing access to the Internet and sending, receiving, and storing messages and other data.”

The price point is higher than expected

Term “mini” is merely descriptive, says USPTO

The letter goes on to explain that the term “iPad” is descriptive when “applied to applicant's goods”, because the prefix 'i' in the name stands for Internet. This usage, it says citing an “attached evidence”, would be understood by buyers as referring to Internet, pertaining to Internet-related products or services. The letter adds that the term 'mini' as in iPad mini is also “descriptive of a feature of applicant's product”. It, however, notes that the term is just descriptive of goods that are “produced and sold in miniature form”. Importantly, the letter notes, “As demonstrated, applicant’s mark comprises a combination of descriptive terms. Generally, if the individual components of a mark retain their descriptive meaning in relation to the goods and/or services, the combination results in a composite mark that is itself descriptive and not registrable.”

It stresses that both the individual components and the composite result do not create a unique meaning in relation to the goods and are merely descriptive of a feature or a characteristic of goods. USPTO therefore rejected it under Section 2(e)(1) of the Trademark Act.

If Apple wishes to prevent the USPTO from abandoning its trademark application, then it has to submit its response to the letter within 6 months of the mailing date. 

Apple had announced its iPad mini in October last year. The new iPad mini sports a 7.9-inch multi-touch display, FaceTime HD and iSight cameras.

The iPad mini has an aluminium and glass design 7.2 mm thick, and weighs only 0.68 pounds. The iPad mini has 35 percent more screen real estate than 7-inch tablets and up to 67 percent more usable viewing area when browsing the web. The dual-core A5 chip on the iPad mini allows for responsive graphics and a multi-touch experience that Apple believes to be both, fast and fluid while still providing all-day battery life. 

The iPad mini features a front-facing FaceTime HD camera and a 5-megapixel iSight camera at the back, which allows for recording full 1080p HD video. The iSight camera includes video image stabilisation and both cameras feature backside illumination, which Apple claims will allow users to capture great pictures in low light. The iPad mini also allows easy sharing of photos with friends and family using iCloud’s Shared Photo Streams.

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