Steve Jobs's Freakiest Trademarks

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From retail-store designs to iPhone packaging, Apple defends its unique identity

When Apple announces something new from a device (iPhone) to a slogan ("There's an app for that"), they never forget to file a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. So, earlier this month, Apple took out trademarks on the newly announced iCloud for every conceivable usage.

All big companies trademark a wide variety of things. Microsoft's trademarked "Lips," for example. Still, Steve Jobs' trademark admirable/insane attention to detail is on full display in this gallery of odd Apple trademarks. Take Apple's description of its iPhone packaging on the third slide: it's 265 words. The trademarks show how aggressively Apple wants to defend the differentiation of the look and feel of its devices, their packaging, and the stores in which they're sold.

And that specificity isn't idle fun for Apple's lawyers. The company launched a suit against Samsung for allegedly infringing on its trademarked icons and packaging earlier this year. When you're leading the field, as Apple is, protecting your innovations makes sense. On the other hand, Apple also trademarked the use of a glass cube for a retail store, as you can see below. As with so many Jobs productions, you can smell the control freakery in these filings.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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