Covert BT bid to own i-mode trademark

BT has registered 12 versions of the trademark i-mode – the mobile Internet service brand of Japanese telecoms giant NTT DoCoMo – with the UK Patent Office, but has not yet won the right to use the name.

BT’s attempt to acquire ownership of the name, ahead of NTT DoCoMo’s expected launch of the service in the UK and Europe next year, could be a spoiling tactic.

The telecoms giant may also be planning to launch its own service under the i-mode brand. I-mode has been widely successful in Japan, in stark comparison with Wireless Application Protocol’s (WAP) muted reception in the UK.

But a partnership between BT and NTT DoCoMo could also be possible. NTT DoCoMo has given US giant AT&T exclusive rights to roll out i-mode across the US. AT&T and BT are linked through their joint venture company Concert.

The Patent Office says a delay in granting a trademark is usually attributable to objections raised about ownership – because it is seen as a generic, industry standard term which should not be owned by one company or because someone already owns it.

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