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Trademark Registration - Apple and INTEL Clarify Thunderbolt Ownership

Friday May 27, 2011 at 4:29pm
Confusion has reigned recently between Apple and Intel as to who owns the trademark THUNDERBOLT I/O, the high-speed data transfer technology.

Intel is credited as being the brains behind it, but Apple is the one who holds the original trademark for the name.

Intel has always claimed ownership of the development of the technology, which was initially named Light Peak and is able to transfer data between host devices and external devices at speeds of up to 10Gbps (gigabits per seconds) in both directions. For example, using this technology you can transfer a full-length HD movie in less than 20 seconds. Intel firmly insists that it also owned the Thunderbolt trademark registration, in spite of the fact that it was filed by Apple, apparently as part of their collaboration with Intel.

However, when documents revealing an application from Apple for the Thunderbolt name were spotted in the files of the US and Canadian trademark offices, it was assumed that Apple had exclusive rights to the Thunderbolt brand name, especially because no claims to the trademark by Intel could be found in the trademark offices.

Intel’s communications manager, Dace Salvator, clarified that as part of Intel’s collaboration with Apple, the latter did some of the initial trademark filings but Intel has full rights to the Thunderbolt trademark and that its name will be used on all platforms, irrespective of the operating system.

It seems that Intel originally created the I/O technology using optical cabling and marketed it under “Light Peak” but Apple later convinced Intel to substitute the optical connection with copper, to permit the transmission of electricity as well as data and so the name was also changed.

The technology was unveiled earlier this year with Apple’s current line of MacBook Pro notebooks and iMac all-in-one computers.

So there we have it: Apple simply helped with the filing of the Thunderbolt trademark registration, but it is now transferring it back to Intel.
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