The US Patent & Trademark Office has refused Apple’s application for a trademark for Touch ID. Patently Apple reports that the decision was made back in May, but has only now been made public. The reasoning behind the rejection: Another company, (Kronos), already holds a trademark for Touch ID, and there is a “likelihood of confusion” due to the similarity of the names.
USPTO states that “Trademark Act Section 2(d) bars registration of an applied-for mark that so resembles a registered mark that it is likely that a potential consumer would be confused or mistaken or deceived as to the source of the goods and/or services of the applicant and registrant.
In this case, the following factors are the most relevant: similarity of the marks, similarity of the goods and/or services, and similarity of trade channels of the goods and/or services.
The USPTO trademark database shows that the Kronos Touch ID trademark is also used for a fingerprint recognition system, and that it has held the trademark since 2001. Apple did not apply for its trademark until January 2014.
Apple will be given six months to respond to the USPTO with a suggested remedy, otherwise it will be forced to rename the feature. However, it’s likely that Apple will simply write a fat check to Kronos for the rights to the name.