Today, the Trademark Trial and Appeal board at the United States Patent and Trademark Office denied Apple of an application for a trademark of Multi-Touch.
While that's definitely not going to bother a lot of consumers right from the get-go, there's something bigger here: since Apple can't claim that Multi-Touch is its own term and only its own, the competition can now use that same term to describe their products. Read on to find out how much of an impact this really could have on Apple's dominance in the mobile market.
Samsung, LG, and numerous other smartphone manufacturers have definitely used the term "multi-touch" to describe their products' abilities to recognize more than one point of input on a capacitive touchscreen display. Apple, though, wanted a trademark on the term "Multi-Touch;" that is, it wanted that technology's name to be its own.
Now, Apple already owns the technology for Multi-Touch, and it's in many lawsuits with numerous companies because those companies use it for their own. Those lawsuits don't have any effect here; we're talking solely about the name.
Because Apple doesn't have the ability to trademark Multi-Touch, Samsung, LG, HTC, Microsoft, Google, etc. can now (legally) use that term to describe the way that their products can recognize more than one point of input.
Big deal, right? Apple still holds a major percentage of mind share amongst consumers, so who cares about a name? Well, most of my less-technological friends will describe any smartphone's ability to pinch-to-zoom multi-touch. Apple might've had one of the first applications of it, but now it has spread to the competition, and everyone knows what it is. Consumers don't really care that multi-touch is a term that was originally created by Apple for Apple's own use; they know that it's true, but if Google has multi-touch, then it's as good as Apple's iPhone, and they should go buy an Android device instead.
That's the major problem for Apple right now. They could go the route of renaming its technology, but it's a pain in the rear end to do so. Really, all Apple can do now is make some new form of multi-touch gesture, show that off to consumers, and prove that it's the best at making touchscreen devices. Until then, Apple's got a rocky road to drive on going forward.[MacRumors]