After 4 Years, Apple Has Been Denied The “Multi-touch” Trademark


I think it would be fair to say that it was, in fact, Apple who introduced the world to multitouch technology in smartphones with iOS (even if they didn’t invent it). Well, back in January of 2007, Apple was trying to trademark the term but now, after almost 5 long years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple the “multi-touch” trademark. According to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board at the USPTO the term “multi-touch” has become a more general term (like Kleenex or Asprin). Here’s what the trademark attorney had to say on the matter:

“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.”

While I’m not the biggest fan of Apple, this ruling could be seen as a bit unfair seeing how after 4 years, it’s only now that multitouch has become a general term for interacting with our touchscreen devices. Had this have been reviewed back when we were still using stylus’s on Windows Mobile devices, I think the ruling would have turned out a lot different. But there it is. We can now legally say our Android devices feature “multi-touch” technology without fear of reprisal. Thank gawd too. Because I would hate having to type out or say “multiple simultaneous touch point devices.”

[MacRumors via Gizmodo]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. meh I’ve accomplished the multi-touch at strip clubs and dance clubs before Apple tried to trademark the term, they were just stealing from me.

      1. apple invented multitouch and deserve this trademark

        you guys are ignorant

        1. I really sincerely hope you are being facetious.

          1. Yea….I think he forgot the sarcasm tag at the end of his post.

            Sarcasm is hard to tell on the interwebz.

          2. He is a troll. Quite an old troll.

            Ignore him.

          3. yes commander!

        2. hey jackapp..they didnt had something going on before that,,dummy.

    1. HAHAH!!!!!

    2. That was my granny you, ahihihi

  2. I disagree with your generous nature in that I feel Apple was rightfully denied this trademark. While you’re right about Apple being the ones who introduced this technology to the masses, they weren’t first, nor were they innovative about it. They just implemented it on a device that got popular and thus, everybody had it. The key is that very few people bought the device explicitly for this reason – they bought it because it was a decent product that had a slick interface, ran apps, and played music, and was a good phone. I believe Microsoft and HP both had multitouch interfaces before Apple did in their “research labs” for use with presentation devices and touch screen input, Apple just found a use for it for the masses first.

    Also, I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds it ironic you typo’d “Because I would hate having to typ out or say”… :-)

    1. That was…. intentional? xP

      And even though Microsoft of HP could have been using multitouch interfaces I’ve never heard of the term used until Apple introduced it.

      I guess they should have called it “iTouch” technology or something..

      1. Altough Microsoft Surface came to market in 2008, it has been in development since 2001 and I’m pretty sure I saw some technical demo of this floating around before Apple tried to copyright this 1980’s technology some 20-years after it was invented.

      2. I enjoy your spirit, but your lack of knowledge doesn’t really mean too much in this case. Like Zomby2D has pointed out, the Surface was using multitouch at its announcement in 2007. We need to get past the “if I’ve never heard of it, so it must not exist” mindset.

    2. First off I think we all benefit that Apple doesn’t own the patent on multitouch and I feel for them because I know they really think they should. They can’t claim that they were the innovators of the technology so they try and trademark a name for it? Just like the app store. They are pure genius. They build on the backs of giants just like most of us today do, but they are smart enough to make up a word that makes it look like they invented something.

  3. Lol the image is from windows

  4. points two fingers at apple and says “Haha”!

    1. How many heard Nelson’s voice, the bully off the Simpsons reading this…

  5. This is just a trademark… we could have called it many-touch and gone on with our lives without much of an issue.

    (As a side note, I’m super impressed with the new way to zoom on the Galaxy S II. I think pinch zoom may be on the way out… wait, did Apple trademark pinch-zoom?)

    1. I’m almost positive they applied for a patent of “pinch to zoom.” Remember reading it somewhere.. =/

      1. LOL, I did too, I think you wrote it! I sure hope they don’t get that one


  6. is this a final verdict no ways to appeal again?

    1. I sure hope so

  7. I don’t think it’s unfair at all. In a few seconds, I found three videos on YouTube posted in 2006 of devices described as “multitouch”:,cd_max:1/1/2007

    1. That is pretty amazing. Once again, I’m not saying Apple invented multitouch and deserves a patent for it. Just saying that in 2006 I had never even heard of the term “multitouch” until Apple coined it by featuring it (really well, I might add) in iOS.

      1. True but it is an intuitively descriptive term so Apple doesn’t deserve to own it. I also notice that the website was started in February 2006.

      2. C’mon man! You can’t possibly be inferring that Apple deserves the trademark just because they have better marketing

      3. You might want to re-word the article a bit. If it were actually denied because it was commonly used, that would be terribly unfair. Apple applied for the trademark before it was commonly used. However, even the quote you used says that the reason for the denial wasn’t that at all. It states that the term is too descriptive of what it does, and therefore can’t be trademarked. Kinda like denying a trademark for a new floor-sweeping robot called floor-sweeper.

    2. apple could have internally made it years before that loser

  8. Screw Apple wherever and whenever anyone can

  9. Who owns the patent itself?

  10. Chris, I like you, and your posts, but if you had simply googled “origins on multitouch”, you’d see it has a history long, long before smart phones. Ex:

    1. I mean, I’m not saying Apple INVENTED it — just that mainstream consumers never even heard of the term (or though of using it in a mobile phone) until Apple showed off “pinch to zoom” and all that.

      1. That’s not a reason to give a trademark though… This is like the appstore case all over again. The average consumers referred to an “app” as a program. That’s what they were called on windows, but they’re just as much an app(lication) as they are a program. Along comes the iphone and now everyone likes calling programs on mobile devices apps. Does that mean they should be able to trademark the term app? Hell, no.
        Also this has a nice history of multitouch.

    2. You obviously didn’t even read chris’ article. He very respectfully laid out the facts and only claimed Apple popularized it, which is exactly what happened.

  11. First of all, i dont like apple and i dont like their business model. For every patent/trademark they own, they will can and will use as a weapon against any opposition be it android, mcdonalds, burger king, your mom. And seeing how common “multi touch” is across many devices today, allowing apple to own this “right” can only mean trouble.

    1. Actually, their business model is quite amazing. I learned in one of my business classes how Apple has a genius business model. Here is basically how it goes:
      1. Create expensive, luxury-exclusive item w/ ecosystem(think iTunes)
      2. Create cheaper, not-so-expensive version that will make people think they can finally be a part of this exclusive ecosystem(generate followers)
      3. Tie people into ecosystem(apps not transferable, music stays in iTunes, etc.)
      4. Start making better, more expensive versions and kill off the cheap ones.

      That said, I hate their business model and will never buy another one of their products.

      1. I’ve always hated their business model, and therefore have never bought one of their products.

        The biggest reasons I didn’t buy an iPod early on is that I would have had to run iTunes (which in my opinion is, and always has been, a terrible program) and because it converted all of the songs from an industry standard mp3 file, to an very proprietary (iDevice only) m4a file. I was smart enough to realize that they are actually trying to make me pay money to have them screw me.

  12. APPLE DIDN’T invented the touch screen.

  13. Roflmfao

  14. {slap APPLE} finally a stupid end. Now we have win the “Rectangle” design of a smartphone…

  15. You sucker. Don’t feel bad for Apple. Remember, they will bend you over and screw you, HARD, whenever they can, so don’t get feeble on us now.

  16. Um… Kleenex is a registered trademark. I have to say that I usually don’t complain, well, actually I’ve never complained in writing! BUT come on, that was just awful! I even forgive your typos since I can’t spell!

    Get it together!

    Ha ha ha!

    1. Maybe you should stick to not complaining…at least in writing. Kleenex was a registered trademark. So was Aspirin(Bayer says hello) so was Xerox for that matter. But they become generic terms to describe products with the same functions and thus the trademarks are forfeited/uninforceable. That is his point in comparing them to Multi-touch which has become a generic term for the function.

      Maybe you should get it together before you tell others to get it together.

      Ha ha ha!

      1. LOL. Burn! Too bad your wrong! I think you need to check your facts.

        Not only that but opening your mouth just more crap comes out.

        Aspirin actually lost its trademark after WWI, not because it became a Generic Term… It became a generic term because we kicked the hell out of Germany and wanted to punish Bayer.

        So go get a box of generic facial tissues from the store and cry into them.

        1. Sorry, but I’m not gonna cry because some guy on the internet who knows slightly less than nothing tells me I’m wrong about something I’m not wrong about. Bayer still technically has the trademark for Apsirin(I say technically because its a generic term so its not enforceable) in the vast majority of the planet. They only had to forfeit it in a couple of countries. So unless you enjoy showing how unintelligent you are to everyone on the interwebs, you might wanna go byebye now.

          1. Trademark law is unique to each country so what one court decides isn’t relevant to the rest of the world. In the case of Kleenex, it still is a registered trademark in the US. It is in danger of having that trademark status revoked *if* they are taken to court (or take another company to court defending that trademark). At the present time this has not happened in the US and so Kleenex still holds that trademark.

            Bayer lost their trademark for Asprin in the US, and most of the Allied powers as part of the Treaty of Versailles. This was signed by most of the 1st world countries at that time and well.. with the victors go the spoils. In many other countries Bayer still holds the trademark.

            In either case your wrong. When a trademark is found in a court of law to be generic, then that trademark is invalidated. It no longer exists. So, your comment that Bayer owns the trademark in most of the world (my research showed it to be less than 1/3…) but that in most of the world it was considered generic is wrong in multiple ways.

            I’m sorry to have upset you, but trolls like you should keep your mouths shut and ears open.

          2. Bayer lost their trademark in France, Russia, the UK and the US. If you think that is 2/3 of the world, then I just can’t help you.
            If Kleenex isn’t genericisized(not a real world, but i think you know what I mean) then why aren’t they suing anyone who uses their name without putting the registered trademark symbol by it? Just because it hasn’t gone to court doesn’t mean its not a generic word now. They won’t take it to court because they know the trademark would be viewed as uninforceable.
            And you’re pointing out faulty “facts” to try and divert from the fact that you didn’t understand the point of his comparing multitouch with kleenex and aspirin. Its ok, comprehension isn’t everyone’s strong point.
            And you didn’t upset me. It makes me a little sad to see someone fail so bad at trying to be smart, but I’m not upset.

          3. You both are hilarious! Really, getting this worked up over your interpretations of trademark law? Here’s the best part: The trademark wasn’t even denied because of common-use like this article states. It was denied because it was too descriptive of what it did. Like a trademark for a floor sweeping robot called “Floor Sweeper.” Oh the hilarity!

  17. Wow, so they denied Apple trademarks for Kleenex’s an aspirin, too?!? (kidding, kidding)

  18. DENIED !!!!!!! lol. i guess im the only one that gets what youre saying Chris….apple didnt invent it but they coined the phrase. But if i understood correctly you never said you think they should be granted the just said it was unfair…

    But being and android fan and this being an android website i just have to say…….KARMA’s A BITCH APPLE

  19. smart phones having multitouch, is a bit analogous to cars being multi wheel.

  20. F$%K Apple!! I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if they they believed they deserved to get it. They built their company on others’ hard work and rather than say thank you, they chose to file lawsuits.

    Sorry Chris but Apple SUCKS and they lost this one. I know deep down inside it hurts. I bet it must really pain you to write something positive about Android.

  21. Apple just introduced the term to the mainstream but not the technology

  22. dRAOm0 must be living in the caveman ages. Apple is suing everyone because they are running scared of losing sales to Android.

  23. This childish behavior of being SUE HAPPY by Apple has got to stop. I could think of hundreds of better ways to spend their time and money. Give it up Apple, you are turning the whole world against you with this stupid behavior. My 10 year old acts better.

  24. Makes you wonder did anyone every try to trade mark touch screen, or smart phone? If not…its lil things like this that irks some ppl about Apple. Cuz we all know they they would probably sue for anyone using the term without their permission.

    I give them credit tho for trying to cover every possible angle, corner..

  25. Good!!!!!!!!!!!!!! for you Apple, you didn’t get that one. Eventually everything come back around. Thank God

  26. Poor Apple.

    They can always come up with a unique term that is not generic, and therefore eligible for trademark protection:


    1. itrolltouch…iapplerub.multirub,givejobsarub,ifinger,forget a joke…trademark anything they can…ha

  27. “a bit unfair” ??

    please … with all the underhanded crap they’ve been pulling trying to get competitor products pulled from shelves; i’m happy to see the patent office untuck their manhood and say “no, you can’t have that”, even if it is just a trademark. It’s a step in the right direction.

  28. Hold your horses. The quote you just pulled in the article doesn’t state that “multi-touch” is a commonly used word and therefore shouldn’t be granted as a trademark. It clearly states that the term is too descriptive of how it works, and therefore can’t be trademarked. So your assertion that it might not be fair (which would be completely true if the rest of your article was right) is actually not even close.

  29. Well, apple didn’t invent it but they popularized it. So, no they don’t deserve it. However, the response was badly composed and it definitely doesn’t seem fair based on that. You can’t deny it just because it became a general term in the last 4 years…unless the laws specific give any trademark request X years to see if it becomes a general term. (which I think would be fair….since whether it becomes a general term is not something that can be controlled one any one company)

    The bottom line is that if Apple actually “invented” it, they would have done this before it was first released. They didn’t have a case then, they still don’t have a case now.

  30. It may not be 100% fair and just…

    But what goes around… comes around, Apple. This is for bullying Samsung.

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