Apple has been denied a trademark for the term "multi-touch," reports MacRumors. Apple originally applied for the trademark on January 9, 2007, just one day before the first iPhone was introduced.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office denied the initial trademark application, but per USPTO rules, Apple was able to appeal the original ruling. However, the USPTO's Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has now upheld the initial ruling.
The USPTO's trademark attorney pointed out that "multitouch" has become such a generic term used in myriad devices besides Apple's iPhone and iPads. As noted by MacRumors, there are several factors that determine if a name, or "mark," has the "acquired distinctiveness" which would allow a company to receive a trademark on it. Those include a mark's length and exclusivity of use and the company's advertising expenditures promoting that mark.
The lack of a trademark for "multi-touch" will in no way affect how Apple can advertise their devices; it simply means that Apple can't claim trademark infringement if others advertise "multi-touch" technology in their devices.