Apple Snags Harley-Davidson Trademark Rights to ‘Lightning’ in EU


Apple acquired partial European trademark rights to the word “lightning” from motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson’s intellectual property unit, H-D Michigan, LLC, according to public filings with the European Union’s trademark and design unit (see below), and a blog post by Patently Apple.

Apple uses the term Lightning to describe its proprietary connection interface for iPhone, iPad, iPod, and iTouch devices that were introduced starting in September 2012.

The trademark update, however, currently applies only in the EU, although it seems likely that Apple and H-D also negotiated for the transfer of certain U.S. trademark rights to the word mark.

The H-D unit filed a trademark registration on January 1, 1995, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “motorcycles and structural parts therefore,” and was awarded trademark registration by the USPTO for the word mark nearly 2.5 years later on June 3, 1997.

According to a recent EU Community Trademarks Bulletin, H-D’s two trademark registrations for the word ‘lightning’ were formally canceled by the EU on  November 22, 2012, and a publication correction was made today, November 26, 2012, to reflect Apple’s new registration marks.

H-D originally sought and obtained EU trademark registration status for two “lightning” word marks. The first (EU Trademark No. 003469541) was field on March 6, 2003, and awarded on July 22, 2005 The second (EU Trademark No. 003085578), was filed in October 2003, and awarded on April 12, 2005.

The new EU trademark filings by Apple do not, however, reflect a complete transfer of Harley-Davidson’s rights to the trademark for all purposes.  Instead, the EU trademark codes in the filing show a partial transfer to Apple of rights to use ‘Lightning’ in connection with certain goods and services, while other trademark rights to the work mark still remain with H-D.

For example, Apple is using one partially transferred EU trademark (Apple EU Trademark Registration No. 011399821) for a wide-ranging assortment of consumer goods ranging from eyeglasses and wiring to TV sets and telephones.

According to the Community Trademarks Bulleting, H-D still retains original trademark registration status for a variety of word marks that extend to clothing, zippers, undies, aprons, mittens, shoe buckles, and related goods.

Apple’s other partially transferred EU Trademark Registration (No. 011399862) lets the Cupertino-based company use the word mark for games, Christmas tree decorations, an assortment of toys for people, dogs, and cats; fishing rods and tackle, and other related goods.

The filing shows that H-D still retains original trademark registration status for a host of leather goods, soft goods, umbrellas, dog collars and leashes, and more.

Here is a look at the information published today by the EU reflecting the partial transfer (under code 851) of certain marks from H-D, and the motorcycle company’s partial retention (code 511) of the ‘lightning’ mark for certain goods and services:

Image credits: Palto via Shutterstock (top); European Union Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (bottom)