Have you ever heard of Black Tower Press? Back in 2011, the small New York publisher of sci-fi and fantasy books filed a trademark suit claiming that it had the rights to use the term “iBooks”. Yesterday a New York court ruled in Apple’s favor, stating that the publisher’s mark — ibooks — and Apple’s electronic bookstore trademark would not be confused by consumers.
Black Tower obtained the “ibooks” mark in 2006 when it purchased another publishing company that had used the term for an imprint selling sci-fi and horror novels. However, Black Tower never obtained a registered trademark for “ibooks”, nor did the predecessor company.
Apple did obtain registered trademarks. In 1999, it obtained a license from a software company to use the term “iBook” to describe a line of colorful clamshell laptops. In 2010, Apple bought the other company’s trademark outright prior to the introduction of the iBookstore and the iBooks app.
US District Judge Denise Cote noted that “ibooks” was descriptive of books sold on the Internet, and that Black Tower had only acquired distinctive meaning in using the word and its lightbulb logo (see image above) together.
Those interested in reading the full decision can check it out below.