Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Trademark fight ditches Apple's Use of "Mighty Mouse"

A company called Man-Machine offers “hyghenic, washable keyboards and mice”, as shown at its own website here. This sounds like an appealing concept in a world where suddenly we are worried about dangerous influenza viruses (H1N1 and maybe H5N1 down the road) that could remain dangerous on workplace-related or home hobbyist surfaces. I guess one could imagine computer components that are cat proof for people who led stray neighborhood “friends” in.

But Man-Machine also has a registered trademark for its “Mighty Mouse”. A bit of background: Decades ago, 20th Century Fox developed a character “Mighty Mouse” for its Terrytone cartoons (in the days when movie theaters showed them), and this was an acceptable deviation from Disney’s “Mickey Mouse”. But totally different lines of business can use the same wordmark as long as common sense suggests there is no possibility of confusion (that can be debatable).

That’s the rub. Apple computer has gotten served for trying to use “Mighty Mouse” as the name of its new component for newer post-iMac G machines. But it makes sense that USPTO would rule against Apple (which it did on Oct. 6), because this is in the same line of business. So Apple, darn it, has to come up with another name.

The story, by Ronald O. Carlson, is on Mac.Blorge here.