Detroit Free Press article regarding Nissan, source of the INFINITI Q45, suing Audi over its use of Q5 and Q7. The artcile quotes me about the ‘family of marks’ argument, where if a trademark owner can show that a common prefix or suffix in a series of marks has source-indicating power, than it could prevent use of that prefix or suffix by a third party. Examples being Mc (McDonalds, McCheese, McNuggets), i (iPod, iTunes, iMac) and -man (Walkman, Discman).
UPDATE: CNN.COM picked up the story, anonymously quoting me as a patent lawyer. I’m not a patent lawyer but I would be happy to refer you to a colleague who is.
UPDATE: Professor Goldman has been sending me a series of harrassing emails this morning arguing that Apple does not have protectable rights in the ‘i’ prefix. As H.L. Mencken had printed on his business cards, ‘you may well be right.’ Nevertheless, I wouldn’t clear an i-prefix mark for products that compete with those of Apple’s i prefix products.