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Apple sues to win trademarks for augmented-reality software

Post Time:2024-02-27 Source:Reuters Author:Blake Brittain Views:

Feb 26 (Reuters) - Apple (AAPL.O), has filed a lawsuit in Virginia federal court challenging the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's refusal to grant trademarks covering the company's augmented-reality software development tools "Reality Composer" and "Reality Converter."

Apple, whose augmented-reality technology is a centerpiece of its newly released Vision Pro headset, asked the court, Friday to reverse the USPTO's decision that the phrases were not distinctive enough to receive federal trademark protection.

"Consumers must exercise imagination to understand how the nonsensical phrases 'reality composer' and 'reality converter' — which sound like science fiction impossibilities — relate to Apple's products," the complaint said. "They are suggestive, just as Burger King is a fast-food chain, not an actual monarch."

Representatives for Apple and the USPTO declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Apple's Reality Composer and Reality Converter allow developers to create and alter 3-D augmented-reality content for Apple apps. The content is compatible with Apple devices including the Vision Pro mixed-reality headset, which the tech giant began selling earlier this month.

Turkish visual-effects company ZeroDensity challenged Apple's trademark applications at the USPTO, arguing that the phrases could not receive federal trademarks because they merely describe what the software does. ZeroDensity also said Apple's trademarks would cause confusion with its own "Reality"-related marks.

ZeroDensity, the named defendant in the case, said in a statement on Monday that it was "surprised and concerned by [Apple's] misinterpretation and misrepresentation of our company" and is "resolute in defending our 'Reality' trademarks."

A USPTO tribunal agreed with ZeroDensity that Apple's marks were descriptive without addressing whether they would confuse consumers. Apple said in Friday's complaint that its phrases were "made-up terms coined by Apple that do not describe the underlying software development tools."

"In contrast, descriptive terms like Raisin Bran or American Airlines straightforwardly describe the goods and services offered under the brand name," Apple said. "As innovative as Apple is, it cannot 'compose' or 'convert' reality."

Apple argued that its marks would not cause consumer confusion and accused ZeroDensity of trying to "claim broad rights in the word 'reality,' which no one entity can monopolize."