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Apple loses bid for music app icon trademark

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says Apple cannot have a trademark for one of its app icons, saying long-defunct iLike got there first.

Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple's efforts to trademark an icon for its iOS music player in the U.S. have been denied due to design from a company that no longer exists.

As part of a decision handed down by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board last week, the group found Apple's icon a bit too similar to one issued to iLike in 2008, upholding an initial finding from a trademark examiner.

iLike, of course, no longer exists. The company was gobbled up by MySpace in late 2009 and was eventually absorbed into the company's own music product.

"In comparing the marks within the above-noted legal parameters, the marks at issue are similar because they comprise a double musical note in an orange rectangle," the decision, picked up by GigaOm today, reads.

The group adds that the similarities "outweigh any specific differences" when the two icons are put side-by-side:

Apple's icon (left) next to iLike's (right).
Apple's icon (left) next to iLike's (right). USPTO

Apple applied for the trademarked icon in April 2010, right around the time it began using it as the music player icon on the iPod Touch. The company would later bring it over to the iPhone and iPad as part of iOS 5.

The decision can be appealed by Apple, which spent a considerable part of last month arguing the merits of its own icon designs and the very minute similarities and details with icons created by Samsung for use in its smartphones and tablets. That spat dealt with the look and feel of the devices in conjunction with various other patent and antitrust claims.