The trade mark application for IWATCH was submitted by a third party and assigned to Apple in 2015. Apple’s IWATCH trade mark was found to be invalid after the High Court’s verdict (initiated via an appeal by Apple) agreed with the IPO’s original findings of refusing the trade mark because the mark was not distinctive and was descriptive of the goods applied for.
Trade marks that are descriptive of the goods or services applied can still be registered but only if the applicant can prove the trade mark has acquired distinctive character. Apple tried to do this by arguing that the ‘I’ prefix in their previous trademarked products (e.g. iPhone, iPod and iPad) made it distinctive of the Apple brand but the IPO did not agree with this as they felt the ‘I’ prefix denoted internet which when combined with the descriptive term ‘watch’ results in IWATCH being descriptive of a watch like device with internet function. The High Court agreed with the IPO’s rationale and further pointed to other brands using the ‘I’ prefix (e.g. iPlayer, iSwatch) resulting in Apple’s defence being unsuccessful meaing Apple had ultimately not shown that IWATCH had acquired a distinctive character.