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Apple pushing for multi-touch trademark

Apple Inc. wants to guard its name for the iPhone's signature interface through a trademark, but has ventured outside American borders as part of the process.

On the same day as its first touchscreen devices were rolling into stores, June 29th, Apple was quietly applying for a trademark in a Far East intellectual property office for the term "multi-touch" —a cornerstone of the company's iPhone marketing efforts in the US.

If successful, Apple would have the right to restrict use of the phrase by other companies for more than just cellphones, according to the filing. Most handhelds, including media players and PDAs, would be covered by the trademark.

Companies producing electronics outside of Apple's typical boundaries would also find themselves barred from referring to "multi-touch" under the conditions set out by the document: video game consoles and televisions are equally addressed, the company says.

The concept behind the interface has proven increasingly important to Apple since its introduction, with analysts already calling it a "mega-platform" that could be used for a slew of new products beyond handhelds. Multiple patents have already been filed that would extend the area- and gesture-sensitive technique to computer mice, in addition to those patents announced by chief executive Steve Jobs during his Macworld San Francisco keynote in January.

Whether or not the iPhone maker's belief in the control mechanism will be supported by the law is unknown, as the application is currently under review.