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Apple adds to its trademark list with Retina (TM)

Look closer: Apple has been granted a U.S. trademark for "Retina," a term the company uses to describe its pixel-dense screens. Eyeballs are not covered.

The iPhone's Retina Display.
The iPhone's Retina Display.

Apple last week was granted a trademark in the U.S. covering "Retina," the marketing term the company uses to describe the pixel-dense screens on its iOS devices and computers.

Apple originally filed to trademark the term on June 7, 2010 -- the same day it officially unveiled the iPhone 4 at the company's annual developers conference.

That device would be the first to sport what Apple called a "Retina Display," with the promise that it was impossible to discern individual pixels when used at a normal distance. The company has since put its retina displays in other products such as the iPod Touch, the iPad, and most recently its MacBook Pro notebooks.

It's worth pointing out the trademark only covers a certain class of goods under its coverage. That list includes computers, computer display screens, and mobile devices -- but not eyeballs.

Along with the Retina trademark, which was spotted by Patently Apple earlier today, Apple received a trademark for its Game Center icon. Game Center is the social gaming service originally launched on iOS that has since filtered over to the Mac as part of Apple's latest major OS X update.

If you're wondering just how important such trademarks can be, look no further than the dispute over the iPad trademark in China. After months of arguing over ownership of the name, Chinese firm Proview Technology and Apple eventually came to an agreementworth $60 million. In the case of "Retina" there's been less of an issue, as rival manufacturers have simply touted pixel-per-inch counts and overall resolutions. That includes LG's 1080p smartphone screen, which it simply refers to as FHD, for "Full High Definition."