At the Unpacked event yesterday, Samsung unveiled their new flagship phone, the Galaxy S5 and one of the key features discussed was the Finger Scanner built into the home key. This feature is important to Samsung, as it opens a whole variety of security based functions such as mobile payments based on fingerprint identification. In order to protect their new feature, they’ve applied to various trademark offices around the world to trademark the term ‘Finger Scanner’:
- In the US with the US Patent and Trade Office(USPTO), lodging application 86197609 with them on the 12th of February.
- They applied for the trademark in the UK with the Intellectual Property Office(IPO), lodging request EU012599619 on the 14th of February.
- In Hungary with the Hungarian Patent Office they filed application 012599619 on the 14th of February.
- The trademark has also been applied for with the European Union with the Office for Harmonization in the International Market for trademark 012599619 on the 14th of February.
- Australian site TMWatch saw Samsung filing for trademark 1607226 with IP Australia on February 20th.
Surprisingly, no trademark registration application has been made in Samsung’s home territory of Korea.
The protection of data using bio-metrics is a big industry, with tech companies looking constantly for the next big thing to secure their devices. With billions of dollars of potential income from mobile payments on the line, the rewards will go to those with a successful eco-system, something Samsung is keen to build and one in which they are currently playing catch-up.
The most well known use of fingerprint identification on smartphones – outside of the unsuccessful Motorola Atrix – is of course Apple’s TouchID which uses a finger press on the Home key to sample the users fingerprint. It’s obviously from this corner that Samsung faces their largest hurdle with claims and litigation ongoing in courtrooms around the world with Apple suing Samsung for infringing their intellectual property. Samsung was quite careful at the launch to only refer to the feature by their chosen name ‘Finger Scanner’, possibly showing they are aware of the potential issues with litigation.
The trademark on the term ‘Finger Scanner’ would be far from a lock, as it’s generally quite generic in its description. Developers King.com recently found themselves in a furore over their attempts to trademark the generic term “candy”, with the backlash from the public eventually forcing them to drop it – in the US – although they still retain the trademark in Europe.
At this stage it’s purely a case of Samsung lodging a request to register a trademark – a long way from filing for patents on the technology behind the name – and even this process can take months, but it shows that Samsung is certainly on the ball when it comes to getting their legal ‘ducks’ in a row and with their litigation history, who can blame them?
It remains to be seen if there will be a shot fired over the Galaxy S5 or the Finger Scanner in the legal [thermo-nuclear] war between Samsung and Apple but with cases still on-going in the US it won’t be long till we find out.