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Apple sues US patent office over AR software trademarks

Published Feb 27th, 2024 8:16AM EST
Reality Composer Apple trademark
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple is suing the US Patent Trademark Office after the organization refused to grant trademarks covering Cupertino’s AR software development tools Reality Composer and Reality Converter.

According to Reuters, Apple asked the Virginia federal court to revert USPTO’s decision as these tools are the centerpiece of Apple Vision Pro, Cupertino’s recently-released spatial computer. Still, the governmental organization believes the phrases weren’t distinctive enough for 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.”

Apple Vision ProImage source: Jonathan S. Geller

Both Reality Composer and Reality Converter tools help developers create 3D AR content for Apple apps. Basically, the core foundation of Apple Vision Pro relies on these tools to make spatial computing happen, so this is why Apple wants to protect these names.

Still, Turkish company ZeroDensity challenged Apple’s trademarks at the USPTO, as these phrases “could not receive federal trademarks because they merely describe what the software does.” According to the Reuters report, these AR trademarks could be confused with the visual effects company’s own Reality-related brand.

With that, a USPTO tribunal agreed with the Turkish company, saying Apple’s trademarks were descriptive but could cause consumer confusion. Cupertino defended itself by saying, “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. As innovative as Apple is, it cannot ‘compose’ or ‘convert’ reality.”

Cupertino even said that ZeroDensity was trying to “claim broad rights in the world ‘reality,’ which no one entity can monopolize,” even though Apple wanted to trademark “reality” terms itself.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.