updated 09:00 pm EDT, Thu May 9, 2013
Small press had use 'ibooks' for imprint, never registered trademark
Of the many contentious and complex legal battles Apple has had to fight, some are easier to sort out than others. In a New York courtroom on Wednesday, Judge Denise Cote -- who is also handling the complicated battle between Apple and the Department of Justice over e-book pricing -- made short work of a trademark dispute between Apple and a small-press publisher of sci-fi and horror novels. At issue was Black Towers' line of "ibooks" it obtained in the purchase of a smaller rival, and Apple's "iBooks" trademark.
The trademark suit was brought by Black Tower against Apple in 2011 after the iPhone maker launched its "iBookstore," claiming consumer confusion with its line of books. However, as Judge Cote noted, "ibooks" is a term more naturally descriptive of books sold on the Internet. She also noted that Black Tower had never formally registered the trademark, whereas Apple registered the name "iBook" back in 1999 for their line of colorful portables, and "iBooks" (along with "iBookstore") in 2010 as part of its overall launch of the service.
The judge ruled that consumers would not be confused by the two uses of the term, and that Black Tower had only "acquired distinctive meaning" in using the name and its own logo together, reports Gigaom. The full ruling is reprinted below.