Apple attempt to trademark Music app icon trumped by older MySpace property

Apple's icon (left) was denied protection because of the existing MySpace design (right). | Source: USPTO

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The U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board last week denied Apple protection of its venerable orange Music app icon seen in iOS, saying consumers may confuse the image with a similar design owned by MySpace.

According to GigaOm, the TTAB upheld a trademark examiner's previous decision that Apple's mark was too similar to a design granted to music service called iLike in 2008. The company was purchased by MySpace and ultimately shut down in 2009.

In its appeal, first lodged one year ago, Apple argued that the icon has never been confused with the MySpace-owned design, saying the trademark was weak because a total of eight other companies were granted protection for similar art containing musical notes. The TTAB didn't find the argument convincing, however, and sided with the initial decision to deny Apple protection.

From the TTAB's decision:

The differences in the details of the respective depictions of the double musical notes and their background designs do not suffice to distinguish the marks in terms of their overall commercial impressions.

Apple's "double musical note," or more accurately two eighth notes connected with a beam, design was first seen in the iTunes icon when the service first rolled out in 2001 and slowly morphed into the simplified icon seen in the company's newest iOS versions. The company can appeal the decision again with a federal district court, however it is unclear whether such action will be taken.