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In an Office action filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last week, the attorney examining Apple's "iPad mini" trademark withdrew their primary objections to the application, saying only a disclaimer clarifying the mark's use of the term "mini" is needed in order to move forward.
First spotted by MacRumors, the updated Office action, which was handed in last Wednesday, replaces the earlier rejection from January that denied the trademark due to its "merely descriptive" nature. It is unclear why the examining attorney reversed her original decision.
This Office action supersedes any previous Office action issued in connection with this application. Upon further review of the application, the examining attorney has determined that the following refusal sissued in the initial Office action should be withdrawn. The examining attorney apologizes for any inconvenience caused.
According to the document, Apple's "iPad mini" trademark bid may still be refused if currently pending applications containing the term "mini" are granted. The filings preceding the "iPad mini" mark request cover a variety of products from electronics manufacturers, including Samsung's Galaxy Mini. Along with the explanatory text, the Office action (embedded below) included images from webpages showing the eight products also seeking a "mini" mark.
As for the disclaimer, Apple must add, "No claim is made to the exclusive right to use 'MINI' apart from the mark as shown," to its application. If the standardized note is not included, Apple could be refused the mark.
The USPTO originally refused the trademark request as Apple's use of "mini" described only "a small sized handheld tablet computer," and did not constitute "a unitary mark with a unique, incongruous, or otherwise nondescriptive meaning in relation to the goods and/or services." The document went on to say the specimen images included by Apple, which were from the product's webpage, were "not acceptable to show trademark use as a display associated with the goods." Both refusals were discarded in the latest Office action.