Apple has emerged victorious in a lawsuit centering on the name of its iBooks eReader app, waged by a small New York publisher that uses the label “ibooks.” A court on Wednesday held that the publisher’s mark was “not distinctive,” and that consumers would not confuse the two companies’ products.
The case started in 2011 when sci-fi and fantasy publisher Black Tower Press filed a trademark suit after Apple announced plans to use the word “iBooks” for an app that lets users read and purchase online books.
Black Tower began using the mark “ibooks” in 2006 after buying the asset from another publishing company that used the word for an imprint that sold sci-fi and horror books back in the 2000’s. Yet Black Tower didn’t obtain a registered trademark for the word, and neither did the other publisher.
Apple, though, did obtain registered trademark rights to use “iBooks,” receiving the license to use the term back in 1999 and outright buying the trademark in 2010.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ruled in a detailed court decision that the word “iBooks” is simply a descriptor for books sold on the internet, and that Black Tower had not acquired any “distinctive meaning in the word.”