What Apple can teach us about trademarking and secrecy

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2019 | International Intellectual Property Protection |

Apple has a way of keeping even their biggest secrets under wraps until it is time for their well-planned reveal. Because of this, the general public no longer believes “leaks” are unintentional, but they soak it up all the same. Everyone is eager to get a look at what Apple is up to, even when they have no desire to purchase an Apple device.

Even so, a company needs to register its trademark name to protect it just in case one leak turns out to be legitimate. So, how does a company pull this off when everyone is watching their every move? Business Insider notes that when it came to the iPad, Apple chose the ingenious route of using a British company named “IP Application Development LLC.” One look at the name will spell it out for you: I.P.A.D.

However, there was already a Chinese device on the market with the name, so Apple used the British company to negotiate the trademark rights. It bought it for just $54,800. The Chinese company later realized what Apple had pulled off at their expense and sued the company. The tech giant settled for $60 million, a minor sacrifice for the power to brand all their i-devices for years to come.

Apple provides an elaborate illustration of trademarking. However, Forbes reminds business owners that almost every company has trademarks, even when they do not have copyrighted intellectual property. The name of a company, for instance, is a trademark. So are logos, packaging and other symbols tied to a specific company.

While registering a trademark makes it easier to prove infringement, it is important to note that trademarks can be protected even without U.S. federal registration. As long as a business can prove they used the mark first, they may secure superior rights. This is why it was so important for Apple to secure all rights to the iPad name before launching.

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