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Apple’s application to trademark ‘startup’ enters indexing phase

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 | By Rose Powell

An application filed by Apple Inc to trademark the term “startup” in Australia has been approved for indexing and will be up for examination in November.


Filed by Apple’s lawyers Baker & Mackenzie on August 27, trademark application 1576935 is now listed as “indexing approved”.


A spokesperson for IP Australia, the government body that processes trademark and patent requests, told StartupSmart once a trademark request is indexed, it usually takes 13 weeks before it is examined and the findings published.


“People can put in to fasten up that process. It still won’t change the length of time it takes to get it fully registered (just over seven months), but they put forward a business case to get it expedited,” said the spokesperson, adding this trademark’s results should be published by mid-November.


The examination includes thorough searches into similar terms.


“[The examination includes] really thorough searches on our database to make sure no one else has anything registered or pending that is same or similar. They do phonetic and what are called ‘fuzzy word’ searches, for anything that could be construed to the same or similar in that field,” says the spokesperson, adding sometimes the examiners let things through that are the same or similar if they’re in different industries such as Dove Chocolate and Dove Soap.


Once the findings are published in mid-November, the status of the trademark application will change to “accepted and advertised” if they’ve passed examination.


“If it’s ‘under examination’, you’ll know it’s been sent out an adverse report by the examiner. If it’s got ‘accepted and advertised’, you know it’s the two month opposition period,” the spokesperson says.


Brian Goldberg, an intellectual property lawyer at Premier IP Ventures, told StartupSmart in August that Apple may pass the examination phase.


“With significant usage, there is a possibility it will pass the examination phase,” Goldberg said.


While pre-registered trademarks would be allowed to co-exist if Apple was successful, Goldberg said he anticipated Apple would be proactive in enforcing their trademark if successful.


The move angered the Australian start-up community, with several entrepreneurs calling for the sector to unite to object to the trademark application if it passes examination.


To oppose, opponents need to file a Notice of Intention to Oppose form and pay a $250 fee.


Opponents will also need to file a “Statement of Grounds and Particulars” form outlining why they’re opposing within a month of filing their notice of intention.


There are 14 grounds on which a trademark can be opposed, detailed in the form.