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Apple Seeks To Extend Trademark Into Gaming Devices

A trademark filing has sparked speculation about whether the company is prepping to make a big push into the lucrative market for videogames.
Apple is seeking to extend the use of its name into a variety of gaming devices, including stand-alone videogame machines.

The disclosure is in a Feb. 5 filing to expand the use of the company's trademark. Such filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are to prevent a company's trademark from being used in markets where it could be argued the company has no involvement.

The trademark extension request was uncovered by Trademork.com. The disclosure has sparked some speculation on tech sites about whether Apple is getting ready to make a big push into the market for videogame consoles or PC gaming.

As a matter of company policy, Apple does not discuss plans for future products.

The trademark-extension application seeks to cover "toys, games, and playthings, namely, handheld units for playing electronic games; handheld units for playing videogames; stand alone videogame machines; electronic games other than those adapted for use with television receivers only; LCD game machines; electronic educational game machines; and toys, namely battery-powered computer games."

Becoming a serious competitor in the computer gaming market would require Apple to loosen its tight-fisted control of hardware in the Macintosh. The PC has become the favored platform for hardcore gamers because they can add a second graphics card and make other hardware changes to boost performance. Such hardware changes on the Mac would cancel Apple's warranty.

While there's no indication Apple plans to change, taking a bigger step in the videogame business could be lucrative, particularly in the growing market for casual gaming. The U.S. videogame market last year soared by 43% from 2006 to a record $17.94 billion, according to The NPD Group. Videogame hardware sales were 54% higher than 2006, reaching $7.04 billion. Software sales rose 34% to $8.64 billion, and videogame accessories sales increased 52% to $2.26 billion.

The three major videogame console makers are Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.

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