Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has had a run-in with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, which could have consumers seeing a change in Apple's "Touch ID" feature introduced on the iPhone 5s less than a year ago.
Reports indicate the patent office rejected Apple’s trademark filing for its Touch ID May 7 because of "Likelihood of Confusion." The wording of Apple’s trademark, which was filed in January, was too similar to an already filed trademark for Kronos Touch ID. Having only published Apple’s filing and rejection last Tuesday, the patent office gave the electronics giant six months from the original rejection date to resubmit its filing with more distinct wording.
Though Apple began marketing its Touch ID on the iPhone 5s when it launched last September, Kronos, a company that provides technology solutions for several industries, has held the Touch ID trademark since 2003, Patently Apple reported. Apple has until Nov. 7 to respond.
Apple currently has a number of devices in its pipeline. New iPhone models are expected to be announced in September while new iPad models are expected to launch in October. Rumors currently suggest Apple has plans to include Touch ID on upcoming iPads. The feature serves as a fingerprint scanner that can verify the identity of an iPhone user for various purposes such as unlocking a device or signing into accounts.
Several sources note Apple may have few options outside of paying Kronos for its trademark or changing the name of its Touch ID feature. Consumers likely won’t know what Apple decides to do until new devices release in the fall.
Representatives from Kronos were not available to comment.