Can Apples iPhone 11 “slofie” function be trademarked?
For all the Apple Fans out there, the recent news released by Apple is sure to bring about excitement. Apple have announced that they will be releasing a new iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, which despite the fact the look of the phone is nothing revolutionary, the phone can in fact shoot a slow-motion live photo with the front facing camera. Apple have named this function as “Slofie”.
Like with any new release there will be a sudden increase of this function in the market. Therefore, to prevent competitors copying this “slofie” Apple have placed a request at the United States Trademark and Patent Office to Trademark the term.
The idea to whether this request will be a success is uncertain.
In terms of the intellectual property, a trademark can be refused by the trademark office on either relative, absolute grounds or both. The main area that Apple need to consider when they are filing the application for ‘Slofie’, is whether this could fail on absolute grounds (under section 3(1)).
As noted by the UKIPO, a mark could fail if it is:
“Section 3(2) - ‘Shape’ marks
Section 3(3) - ‘Offensive’ or ‘Deceptive’ marks
Section 3(4) - Marks whose use is prohibited in the UK by enactment or rule of law by any provision of Community law
Section 3(5) - Marks specified or referred to in Section 4 below (Specially Protected)
Section 3(6) - Applications made in ‘bad faith’
Section 4 - ‘Specially protected emblems’ such as Royal arms, Royal crowns, representations of the Royal family, UK and other flags, Coats of Arms, Olympic words and symbols”
After carrying out a preliminary search, on the word “slofie”, there were a number of similar results (including the examination phase of Apples trademark). A highly similar mark was found- ‘Sloffie’. However, this is in a different class specification therefore the likeliness this could be refused on relative grounds decreases. There could, however, still be a risk of confusion for the consumer and therefore a slight risk of an unsuccessful application is still evident.
Slofie is likely to be accepted as a trademark, however, the success of ‘slofie’ becoming a well-used term is indefinite.