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Apple Wants to Trademark the Word 'Startup'

The Cupertino company is at it again, this time trying its luck Down Under.

In a move to cover a range of products and services, on Tuesday Apple filed an application in Australia to trademark the word "startup." Apple has landed trademarks before, such as the "i" used in "iPhone" and "iPod," and the chime that sounds when a Mac is turned on. 

To be clear, the application only covers four classes of intellectual property and doesn't ask for permission to trademark the word that pertains to small businesses. Still, this filing would be of great use to Apple as it pertains to the design and development of computer hardware and software--such as the startup screen that appears when a product turns on--and to educational services such as classes, workshops, and seminars; maintenance, installation, and the repair of computer hardware and consumer electronics, as well as retail store services.

If approved, the trademark could transfer to other countries, including the U.S. and China, who participate in the World Intellectual Property Organization's Madrid System. However, IP Australia, the country's trademark governing body, must examine and approve the application first, pending any objections. If the filing goes through, "startup" would be protected in less than eight months. 

The good news, says Charley Moore, founder and executive chairman of Rocket Lawyer, is that Apple's filing won't have any major impact on how other businesses use the term. 

"A basic principle of trademark law is that a company can't claim a generic word as proprietary," he says. "The word 'apple' itself is actually a really good example of the principle. 'Apple' would not likely be approved as a trademark for a company that grows apples, but it's a great trademark for a company that makes computer devices and software."

Last updated: Aug 28, 2013

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter,

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported on the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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