The term "Touch ID" is now synonymous with Apple's flagship iPhone, but don't tell that to the United States Patent & Trademark Office. In a letter published on Sunday, the agency ruled that granting Apple the trademark would lead to a "likelihood of confusion" among consumers due to an existing "Touch ID" trademark held by enterprise management company Kronos.
Among its other offerings, Kronos manufactures biometric terminals for large companies. These terminals function as time clocks for employees, letting workers sign in with a scan of their finger. The company refers to these as "Touch ID terminals," and it has held the trademark since 2003, long before Apple dreamt up a fingerprint-scanning home button.
At this point, Apple has another six months to decide its next course of action. It can either change the feature's name -- unlikely -- or buy the trademark off Kronos for whatever figure the two companies agree on. The latter seems like a no-brainer, given that Apple has already built Touch ID into its own sub-brand thanks to TV ads and plenty of boasting. Oh, and Apple has a lot of money, so the actual "purchasing" part shouldn't be a problem, either.