RIM has filed an ‘opposition action’ (via Patently Apple) in Canada against Apple’s trademark application for ‘WebKit’, the rendering platform based on KHTML that Apple help create before making open-source. The move grants RIM more time to build their case before a November 22, 2011 deadline.
Apple originally filed the trademark application in May of 2010 which, while getting a little bit of media attention, kind of flew under the radar of most. After all, WebKit has been made open-source.. so trademark or no trademark this shouldn’t affect Google, RIM, and all other platforms currently relying on WebKit in their browsers. Right?
If Apple were granted the trademark, it would mean other companies wouldn’t be able to associate the “WebKit” name with their products. Something that could potentially become more valuable if the WebKit name was marketed more prominently as a feature of future devices. Perhaps if Apple branded “WebKit” as a feature or technology in future products, other companies inability to do so would give Apple an advantage. Apple’s trademark application asserts the company’s rights to the name based on a “screenshot of Applicant’s website [WebKit Nightly Builds page] showing use of mark in connection with download of Applicant’s software”.
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From Apple’s original trademark filing:
The mark has become distinctive of the goods/services through the applicant’s substantially exclusive and continuous use in commerce that the U.S. Congress may lawfully regulate for at least the five years immediately before the date of this statement.
Either way, it’s obvious that RIM is opposed to Apple being granted rights to the ‘WebKit’ moniker. A report from PatentlyApple notes that many of the major smartphone makers will be “interested in the outcome of this decision”, which they claim could be issued as early as 2012. While much of the work that went into building WebKit came from Apple, Webkit dominates the industry as a whole by powering mobile browsers on all Android devices, Amazon products, WebOS, and Google’s Chrome desktop browser. It’s even about to pass Mozilla’s Firefox for market share on desktop PCs.
Steve Jobs talks about WebKit (excerpt from his ‘Thoughts on Flash’ open letter):
Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android’s browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft’s uses WebKit. By making its WebKit technology open, Apple has set the standard for mobile web browsers.