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Apple acquired Lightning trademark from Harley-Davidson

Apple's smaller dock connector has been named Lightning, but according to documents recently released by EU officials, Apple had to go through legendary motorcycle manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, to use the new moniker.

As reported by Patently Apple, the Lightning trademark was first filed in 2003, issued in 2005, and is set to expire in October 2013.

Documents released by the EU Patent & Trademark Office list Apple Inc. as the current owner of the Lightning trademark, though as Patently Apple pointed out, the trademark was "partially transferred" to Apple on 24 November, 2012.

"Harley-Davidson may have retained the ability to use certain aspects of the trademark relating to the motorcycle parts and so on," the blog points out, although the "specifics of the partial transfer weren't revealed."

Interestingly, the trademark does not just apply to motorcycle-related items, but also covers TVs, games, video games, and eyewear - all things for which Apple might use Lightning technology.

Harley-Davidson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With the release of the iPhone 5, Apple ditched the 30-pin connector that has been standard on iOS devices for years in favour of the 8-pin Lightning connector. It is also now available on the fourth-gen 'iPad 4' and iPad mini. The move creates more room for new features on Apple's products, but means those with older 30-pin accessories will have to buy Apple's £30 Lightning connector until more companies create Lightning-compatible gadgets.