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Apple Obtains Harley-Davidson’s “Lightning” Trademark

Lightning to Micro USB Adapter

Lightning to Micro USB Adapter | Apple Online Store

Apple has now acquired Harley-Davidson’s “Lightning” trademark, a brand associated with the company’s new and smaller dock connector for its iOS devices. Based on the EU Certificate of Registration, the registered trademark of Lightning was owned by H-D Michigan Inc., which is the motorcycle maker’s intellectual property holding company.

The motorcycle company owns the rights to the Lightning name, which is used on a wide array of products such as television sets, games, computer game programs, eye glasses, and eyeglass frames. It is also used in motorcycle electric parts, protective helmets, and turn signals.

Apple and Harley-Davidson’s Trademark Deal

As stated on the trademark deal, which was made public in a filing with the European Union, Apple was given a “partial transfer” of the Lightning trademark. This suggests that Harley-Davidson retains its rights to use the name on its motorcycle-related products.

In fact, the trademark is protected until next year, requiring Apple to obtain the rights to the name before launching its Lightning port and accompanying accessories. As posted on Patently Apple:

The EU Patent & Trademark Office officially published two Apple trademark applications for “Lightning” under numbers 011399821/862. What’s interesting about this filing is that it clearly illustrates that Apple had acquired the trademark from Harley-Davidson which is still protected until 2013. One of the documents indicate that the transfer may have officially occurred yesterday, November 24, 2012, the date that it appeared in the EU’s public trademark database.

Lightning Port on Apple Devices

The Lightning port debuted last September when Apple released its iPhone 5. This feature replaces the old 30-pin dock connector found on previous models.

Moreover, the redesigned port is 80 percent thinner than its predecessor, as well as independent orientation that makes it easy to plug in. It also uses an adoptive technology that dynamically assigns its 8 pins, which allows it to be physically plugged into a device in two orientations.

Because of Apple’s latest trademark acquisition, industry watchers are raising questions whether the company is working to enter the Glass Project market. For the past years, a few company patents have pointed to a game console or controller, as well as video glasses. That’s why Apple’s latest patent acquisition is of high interest to industry pundits.

Nevertheless, the Lightning trademark deal gives Apple the permission to use the label on their new iOS connector. And whether this agreement actually means anything remains to be seen.

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