Apple is attempting to trademark the word "startup", covering a range of products and services, in a bold application filed in Australia on 27 August.
The application -- first spotted by TM Watch -- was filed by the company's Cupertino headquarters alongside the Sydney branch of law firm Baker & Mckenzie. The application seeks to use the trademark in relation to retail store services; the maintenance, installation and repair of computer hardware and other devices; educational services, including classes, workshops and seminars, and the design and development of computer hardware and software. So pretty much everything Apple does then.
Apple has actually already filed for this trademark in 2011 in both China and the US. The company was granted a preliminary trademark pending a consultation period where people could object to the trademark. Not surprisingly, objections were filed. Apple has a window to respond to those objections in the US by 20 September.
The trademark application filed in Australia falls under the same international registration as the ones filed in the US and China. This allows Apple to potentially take advantage of the Madrid system, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, whereby a company can register a trademark in one of the countries that signed the Madrid agreement and it will transfer easily to other countries.
While the classes covered by the trademark application are not comprehensive -- i.e. they only cover specific uses of the word startup -- there have been cases where the owner of a trademark with a big enough reputation can take action against dissimilar goods and services where they are trying to ride on the reputation of the mark. We saw this when Facebook tried to sue a teachers network called Teachbook.
There is lots of speculation about why Apple might be trying to trademark a word like "Startup", with some suggesting the company could be trying to disintermediate mobile operators and sell contracts to customers directly.