How Far Can Brief Ubiquitous Language Go in Trademarks?

Business Attorney Oakland Law Firm Explores the Nuances of Trademarks


Business Attorney Pleasanton“Brief ubiquitous language” refers to small parts of a well-known trade name. Trademark questions often land on gray areas in the legal space. Even if you’re a trained business attorney, you can easily find yourself struggling to understand the subtleties of the Trademark Office’s reasoning. Legal fights over trademark nuances happen all the time. Recently, Apple lost a suit claiming that a smaller company (“DOPi”) could not use Apple’s little “i” in its name.



McDonald’s brought a similar case to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board against a company that used “Mc” in its name. McDonald’s argument against this company — “McSweets” — was that its brand name could be confused with McDonald’s products and effectively dilute the brand presence. The board agreed with McDonald’s likeliness of confusion argument, despite the fact that McSweets had been in business for 20 years. A commercial attorney might probe regarding why this “confusion” would suddenly be a problem for McDonald’s, if it hadn’t been an issue for two decades.

Another case featured Apple’s attempt at trademarking “iPad Mini.” The company lost that case, since “mini” is a product description and not a product name. The trademark case also included an examination of the present “iPad” trademark. The letter “i” can stand for “internet,” which cannot be trademarked. However, the “iPad” is a trademarked name in the U.S.

Contact a Business Attorney Pleasanton Team Today

Why can “Mc” be trademarked, while “iPad” and “i” cannot? Seeming inconsistencies like these can create lots of confusion. A corporations attorney can help you and your business understand how to navigate this potentially fraught discussion. Whether you believe someone violated your protected mark, or some business or other entity angrily contacted you over a purported infringement, our legal team can help. Call us today at 510-881-8700.