The LIGHTNING trademark, OHIM Reg. Nos. 011399821 and 011399862, were first issued to Harley Davidson in 2005. Recently, “Lightning” has also become the preferred moniker for Apple’s smaller, 8-pin dock connector. On or around November 22, 2012, Harley Davidson allegedly “partially transferred” trademark rights to Apple with respect to the LIGHTNING mark.
That’s great. But, what does this really mean? Well, according to the OHIM Trade Mark search database, Harley Davidson still owns trademark rights over the international classes 25, 26 and 18, while Apple now owns the rights over international classes 9 and 28. Cool. So what does this mean? Apple has exclusive rights to use the LIGHTNING mark in connection with such things as eyeglasses, eyeglass frames, goggles, audio and video equipment, recorded computer software, electric signs, toy vehicles, pinball machines, computer game programs, and “games and playthings” in general. On the other hand, Harley Davidson retains exclusive rights to use it in connection with leather and imitation leather goods, travel bags, clothing, footwear, lace, and embroidery.
All in all, this sounds like Apple took appropriate measures by seeking a partial assignment of rights over the LIGHTNING trademark. They reached out to Harley Davidson and came to an agreement as to how they could co-exist in the marketplace rather than rely on the fact that Apple and Harley Davidson would likely use the mark with respect to “different goods.”
Smart decision, Apple! Ultimately, this will avoid costly litigation and retain a good professional relationship with another well-known brand (in regards to trademark usage against Harley Davidson anyway).