Apple's Music Icon Can Not Be Trademarked

In Re Apple Inc., Serial No. 85019762 (TTAB mailed Sep. 18, 2012).

Apple sought to register a trademark for its music icon.  Registration was denied based on a pre-existing registration.  The refusal to register was affirmed by the TTAB.

"In comparing the marks within the above-noted legal parameters, the marks at issue are similar because they comprise a double musical note in an orange rectangle. The designs are not identical because applicant’s rectangle has rounded corners, the shades of orange are different, and applicant’s double musical note is ascending while note in the registered mark is descending. Nevertheless, we find that the basic similarities in the marks outweigh any specific differences that might be apparent upon a side-by-side comparison. The differences in the details of the respective depictions of the double musical notes and their background designs do not suffice to distinguish the marks in terms of their overall commercial impressions. Regardless of the differences which might be apparent in a side-by-side comparison, both marks depict a double musical note in an orange rectangle. Thus, when the marks are viewed at different times, the recollection of the first viewed mark will be a general impression that is devoid of the details that applicant argues sets its mark apart from the registered mark. What will be remembered is a musical note in an orange rectangle. The fact that the marks are not identical is less significant to our analysis than the basic similarities arising from the fact that both marks include the depiction of a double musical note in an orange rectangle."