Way back on January 9th, 2007, Apple brought the original iPhone into existence, and the rest as they say, is history. On that very same day, the Cupertino company also filed for a trademark for Multi-Touch. And now, 4 years later, the United States Patent and Trademarks Office has made its decision on the application.

In what is a rare knock-back for Apple, the USPTO has decided that Apple was not the rightful owner of the Multi-Touch trademark and, unsurprisingly, the iPhone-making giant decided to appeal. That appeal has now been heard, and Tim Cook and co. are still out of luck…

The USPTO’s lawyer has declared that the term ‘Multi-Touch’ has taken on a generic meaning, and is currently being used by countless companies when describing their smartphones and tablets.

“Thus, from the foregoing, we find that “multi-touch” not only identifies the technology, but also describes how a user of the goods operates the device. Based on the evidence discussed above, as well as other evidence in the record, we agree with the examining attorney that MULTI-TOUCH indeed is highly descriptive of a feature of the identified goods. We now consider whether applicant has submitted sufficient evidence to establish acquired distinctiveness of this highly descriptive term.”

The full decision is on Scribd, should such legalese float your boat. But what it all boils down to is this: Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and every other smartphone maker can carry on.

Apple? Well, they’ll just have to go back to making damn good smartphones and tablets, won’t they?


  • Boo

    USPTO just saved the world! 🙂

  • sean

    I would understand if they filed this like last week, but they filed when they were only touch device. grimmy move to not approve because the term became popular as their trademark claim was still being process. they got screwed with no grease, while their hands was tied behibd their back,smdh

    • goofygreek

      Touch screens have been around for a while. Apple was the first to implement Multi-Touch into their device, i think. They were not the first touch screen device though. And since Multi-touch is still a type of touch screen, i dont see why it should be patented. If anything, its the original creator of the touch screen that should have the patent. Correct me if im wrong.

      • sean

        Dude , u dont have to inform me of that , btw apple was first hands only touch mobile device and first multitouch. ehrn apple very first device was very responsive other mobile devices that jump on the bandwagon was lagging and low responsive pieces of crap (so much for that touch screen tech awarness). all im saying is how can it be denied (trademark) if apple filed before this touch mobile boom

  • Leon

    Those who disagrees the patent rejection, consider if the telephone was awarded patent..

    • goofygreek

      the original telephone was made around the same time patent office started up. So, if patents were a big deal at the time, it most likely would have been patented. I do believe the term cellular phone or mobile phone was patented. Correct me if im wrong.

      • goofygreek

        Oh, and i agree with the patent office decision on this one. Multi-touch is way to common of a term used to be patented to a company. Its like saying that only one car company can use the term engine. All the other companies would have to come up with a different name.

  • rick maahea

    i have to agree with sean on this one. when they applied for the trademark, they were the only multi touch thing around. the mistake that the USPTO made is that they brought the present into it, which they should not have done.the patent was filed in ’07, not yesterday.

    • sean


  • AppleBits

    I’m with Rick and Sean on the reasoning that USPTO is wrong. What if the same type of ruling applied to a rape victim or a murder victim? Well…it’s been 5 years since it happened…so let’s all just play nice now and get along….NOT GUILTY. Awesome. For NO other reason than Apple having filed for this WAYYYY back in the day, and USPTO using the here and now “boom” factor to make their ruling (after so much time has been wasted), I’m disgusted with the decision…but somehow not in the least bit surprised.

    • black


      TERRIBLE analogy. They aren’t saying because it is so old they won’t give it to them….. they are saying that it is too broad of a term.

      Apple wasn’t the first to use multi-touch (idea) not term. Back in ~2002-3 my dad was working on touch screen kiosks… I think using some kind of MicrosoftOS….. I was helping him with one and one and he showed me that to open a special admin window you had to press with two fingers at opposite corners and it would launch a window…….

      Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that multi-touch?

      also, lawl @ wayyyyy back in the day (2007)

      • AppleBits

        hahaha – yes “wayyyy back in the day” when you are already old as dirt like I am. 😀

  • Androx

    Has anyone read the multi-touch article in wikipedia? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-touch