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Apple Loses Music Icon Trademark Fight Against Myspace

September 26, 2012

Apple Music App Trademark

Social network Myspace is back, and it's honing in on Apple's territory.

As noted by GigaOm, trademark judges last week denied Cupertino's attempt to protect its music app image, saying that users might confuse it with the mark already owned by Myspace.

In a Sept. 18 decision, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) upheld a previous decision denying Apple its requested trademark (left). The rival orange-and-white square music-note icon was issued in 2008 to music service iLike, which was later acquired by Myspace.

Apple argued that the registered mark is "weak," pointing to eight other organizations that have obtained trademarks with music notes without any consumer confusion.

The TTAB dismissed the argument, saying that the Apple and Myspace marks are more similar to each other than the third-party registrations Cupertino submitted to the court. "Moreover, consumers may not recognize the differences because they do not typically set out to find them," the decision said.

Similarities between the two services – Apple's music app and iLike's downloading and sharing feature – is also a point of contention for the TTAB. Cupertino is looking to register its icon for computer software that stores and plays music via handheld devices, while the registered mark is used to distinguish iLike's non-downloadable software that adds music and video profiles on the Internet and allows the playing and sharing of MP3s and playlists online.

"Applicant's software and the registrant's services perform similar functions: controlling digital music," TTAB said.

In the end, the companies' look-alike factors worked against Apple, which can still appeal the TTAB's decision to a federal district court. The company did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

Myspace, meanwhile, re-emerged this week with a sneak peek at its new Justin Timberlake-backed website. In 2011, Specific Media handed News Corp. $35 million for Myspace, which is now under the management of CEO Tim Vanderhook, his COO brother Chris Vanderhook, and Timberlake.



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