updated 11:18 am EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
Name already taken by Kronos punchclock system
The US Patent and Trademark Office has blocked an Apple attempt to trademark the Touch ID technology currently used on the iPhone 5s. The ruling was made in May, but only disclosed this week. In its decision, the USPTO cites "likelihood of confusion" with a previously-registered trademark for "Kronos Touch ID." Both are biometric recognition systems, although Kronos' product is a punchclock technology used in environments like retail stores.
The rejection statement comments that if "a mark consists of a word portion and a design portion, the word portion is more likely to be impressed upon a purchaser's memory and to be used in calling for the goods and/or services." It suggests that Apple's use of Touch ID "does not create a distinct commercial impression because it contains the same common wording as the registered [Kronos] mark, and there is no other wording to distinguish it from the registered mark."
Apple has until November 7th to accept or appeal the decision. The former is more likely, which will probably require the company to come to a mutual agreement with Kronos that could involve a licensing fee.