As one might expect, Apple Inc.'s federal trademark portfolio is quite expansive. As I've blogged about before, Apple has filed over 1,000 trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, including several for the various icons found on many of its electronic devices.
An application filed on March 22 appears to be for one of those icons. One that date, Apple filed a federal trademark application for design seen below covering "computer software for transmitting, streaming, receiving, playing, routing and storing audio, video, images, and multimedia content" in Class 9.
Interestingly, Apple is claiming, under Section 44(d) of the Trademark Act (15 USC 1126(d)), a priority date of September 23, 2016 based on a trademark application for this mark it filed in Trinidad and Tobago on that date. This is a strategy Apple and other companies have been known to use to establish an earlier filing date while keeping the contents of the trademark application secret, because some countries, like Trinidad and Tobago, do not maintain publicly accessible trademark databases like the U.S. Under Section 44(d), so long as the U.S. application is filed within six months of the foreign application, and the applicant has a bona fide intent to use the mark in the U.S., an applicant can claim priority relating back to the filing date of an application filed in most foreign countries. See also TMEP 1003.
So what is this new icon? Is it related to the iPhone 8 set to be released later this year? As far as I can tell, it appears to be a combination of the AirPlay and AirDrop features on the current iPhones (pull up the shortcut menu from the bottom of your screen and you'll see what I mean). Other than that, it is unclear.
Although Apple has filed thousands of trademark applications in the past, 2017 seems to be off to a slower start. According to my quick count, Apple has filed only four U.S. trademark applications so for (including one of the icon above). Two of those applications were related to television shows: one for VITAL SIGNS covering, in part, "entertainment services in the nature of ongoing television programs in the field of drama" and the other for PLANET OF THE APPS covering, in part, "an ongoing reality based television program provided through the Internet."