With news that the United States Patent & Trademark office having rejected HP’s application for the PalmPad mark, HP has been filing for a number of alternative trademarks for its upcoming webOS tablet. One of the trademark filed was for the TouchPad name.
The device in question bears the codename of Topaz and would represent HP’s entry into the consumer tablet market that is powered by smartphone operating systems. Since HP had acquired Palm, the company will be leveraging webOS into its consumer products.
However, despite owning Palm through the acquisition, as well as the Palm brand and branding, the USPTO feels that HP’s original PalmPad trademark was too similar to the Palm name.
Registration of the applied-for mark is refused because of a likelihood of confusion with the marks in U.S. Registration Nos.
Trademark Act Section 2(d) bars registration of an applied-for mark that so resembles a registered mark that it is likely that a potential consumer would be confused or mistaken or deceived as to the source of the goods and/or services of the applicant and registrant.”
“Applicant’s mark PALMPAD is similar to the registered marks PALM because applicant’s mark contains the entirety of the registered marks. Simply adding the term PAD to its mark does not differentiate the marks sufficiently to overcome the striking similarity created by applicant’s use of the registered mark PALM in its mark. The mere addition of matter to a registered mark generally does not obviate the similarity between the marks nor does it overcome a likelihood of confusion under Trademark Act Section 2(d).
The decision to reject the trademark filing by the USPTO based on similar in name to Palm seems rather odd, especially considering that HP already owns the Palm brand and probably wants to keep some aspect of the Palm brand while not explicitly branding it as a Palm-made device, which is natural as HP wants to integrate the Palm brand under its own bigger brand after the acquisition.
That said, I am not sure how a webOS TouchPad tablet wouldn’t cause confusion between a touchscreen tablet of the name and the touchpad or trackpad on modern laptops, which also has “touch” functionality and also multi-touch capabilities enabled on some.