Apple is usually very protective of their intellectual property, so they're probably pretty pissed that a trademark officer rejected their application to own the phrase "iPad Mini." They wield patents like lightsabers and are not afraid to chop off the hands of people they feel are infringing on their intellectual empire. But the United States Patent and Trademark Office's reviewing attorney didn't think Apple made enough of a case to own the "mini" name.
Patently Apple discovered Apple's rejection letter was just released over the last few days, even though Apple was informed of the denial on January 24, 2013. There's no reason provided for the delay releasing the letter, but we do know why Apple was denied the trademark: "the applied-for mark merely describes a feature or characteristic of applicant’s goods," the reviewer writes. The USPTO attorney makes the case that the iPad mini doesn't have a "a unitary mark with a unique, incongruous, or otherwise nondescriptive meaning in relation to the goods and/or services." It's just small, he says.
Additionally, Apple usually forwards their product website address instead of providing "a specimen," in this case a real life iPad Mini, with their application. But this reviewer didn't appreciate that and said as much in his rejection letter.
So, this seems to be a funny little formality more than anything. Apple can still earn the trademark if they can better explain how the iPad mini is different and unique from the larger, normal-sized iPad, besides the size deficiency, which shouldn't be a problem for Apple's team of
stormtroopers lawyers. This seems like the case of one stickler trying to stick it to an evil empire over some details more than anything. Maybe the lawyers who wrote the initial application got lazy. Maybe the reviewer is a diehard Samsung fan.
Here's the decision, via TechCrunch: