The United States Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple's application for a trademark to safeguard its widely popular iPad mini tablet, saying the case to own the phrase was too weak.
Apple, however, has until July 24 to better explain how the iPad mini is different and unique from the larger-sized iPad to counter the rejection seen as a formality.
The iPad mini trademark "merely describes a feature or characteristic of applicant's good", said the rejection letter dated January 24 but that has only emerged in recent days.
Unless Apple demonstrates to the USPTO that the "iPad mini" is a distinctive aim, it will be forbidden to "claim exclusive rights to terms or designs that others may need to use to describe or show their goods or services in the marketplace", the letter said.
The USPTO reviewer also criticised Apple for failing to submit a sample tablet computer with its application and providing product website pages instead.