Does Apple Own All Naming Rights To Any Electronic Device Named A Pod?

from the just-wondering dept

Apple has always been especially protective of their intellectual property -- and when it comes to trademarks, the law pretty much requires you to be extra aggressive or you risk losing the protection. Unfortunately, this leads to plenty of cases where companies send out legal nastygrams when there is no real trademark violation. Nick Burns writes in to point out that: if you use "POD" in your product name, Apple may threaten you. In this case, it's a device for keeping track of how many tickets or tokens have been won from silly arcade-style games -- having little to nothing to do with the iPod name Apple is trying to protect. Of course, if this case actually went to court, Apple might have a difficult time proving any confusion. They'd better watch out, or the makers of the Profit Pod might just pull out the morons in a hurry test, Apple itself used in a recent trademark case. Assuming most morons in a hurry wouldn't come close to confusing the Profit Pod with an iPod, it seems like Apple doesn't have much to go on here.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Pat, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 3:50am

    Name brand association

    Even if it has nothing to do with IPod...customers may think it does

    First :)

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 6:42am

      Re: Name brand association

      "Even if it has nothing to do with IPod...customers may think it does"

      Really. You find me a customer who would confuse that for a music player, and I'll show you someone who should be institutionalized for their own safety.

       

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    Pat, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 3:56am

    Name brand association

    Even if it has nothing to do with IPod...customers may think it does

    First :)

     

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    Dave, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 4:28am

    Mistaken Identity

    I own an iRiver DAP and everyone who sees it for the first time assumes it's made by Apple just because of the "i".
    It really annoys me because what I have far outpasses what Apple make.

    They own "iPod" not "Pod" or "i" or "iPo" or any other variation.

     

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    Legal Guy, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 4:40am

    They're just doing it to prevent any actuall rip-offs. They don't expect or want to win the case against the Profit Pod, they just want to send a warning out to everyone...which unfortunately has to be done in this day and age.

     

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    Jon, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 5:30am

    What about products that pre-date the iPod?

    Line 6's range of POD guitar amplifier emulators have been around for over 8 years. Are they going to get sued because of the name and the music connection?

     

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    Sanguine Dream, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 5:30am

    Right...

    So unless someone is talking about implementing DRM methods on those arcade tickets...

    And on the issue of confusion. Even if you mistake the Profit Pod for the iPod all your confusion will be resolved as soon as you find a picture of it and realize its not a media player.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 5:32am

    Trademark is not copyright

    In the trademark laws it rather specifically says that you must actively defend your trademark or automatically forfeit it.

    With that in mind, then yes, there is a requirement for all sorts of frivolous "legal notices". Sure, apple could spend 20K$ every time investigating every other product out there using part of one of their trademarked names, or they could spend 20$ every time by sending out a warning that they own the trademark to iPod and are not afraid to protect it.

    How one interprets the letter they recieve is up to them. This is a legal check in the box, and its one that Apple would be up shit creek for if they didnt do it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 5:39am

    What about cow POD's? Pieces of Dung. Pretty sure they owned them before Apple thought of using Piece of Dung to describe their equipment. Perhaps the Milk industry needs a piece of iPod's royalties?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 6:16am

    Then there are PODS: Portable On-Demand Storage units. I'd like to see Apple shut them down. This is getting just as ridiculous as Microsoft suing Lindows to no end (which, btw, was finally forced to change its name to Linspire) because of supposed name confusion. This intellectual property stuff is getting waaaaaaaaaay out of hand, and it needs to be stopped, and soon.

     

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    chris (profile), Aug 14th, 2006 @ 6:28am

    apple's history

    apple has a long history of suing anyone/everyone to protect it's brand.

    apple sued eMachines over a blue computer built into a monitor called an e-one, even though the computer with built in monitor (sometimes called a moniputer) waqs pioneered by packard bell and other companies in the 90's.

    here are some pictures of an e-one:
    http://images.google.com/images?q=emachines+e-one&hl=en&btnG=Search+Images

    the e-one did look like the old imacs, and so apple sued.

     

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    Topher3105, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 6:32am

    Take Apple down

    Honestly, this is not an issue. Even if I create a music player called an mPod, there is no reason why Apple has any legal precedence to sue me for trademark infringement, I mean, its different by one whole letter, and that is all that is necessary.

    What tends to happen in these cases is the larger more successful company effectively bullies the smaller underdog in the courts until the smaller company is forced to concede. There is no legal reason why I can not market a brand of ANYTHING an call it mPod or even m-Pod or variations, but Apple is larger then I am, and I can not afford the legal bills. Same with Lindows and Microsoft, the larger companies bullies the underdog into submission.

    Which is why someone like Sony or even Microsoft needs to brand come device using POD in the name and then if Apple goes after them, keep the case open until it reaches its natural conclusion, that legally Apple does not own the trademark on POD, only on iPod.

     

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    Jamie, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 6:43am

    This is common practice at Apple

    This isn't anything new. Apple has always played hardball with trademarks.
    The "nice" image that Apple gives out is nothing but a smokescreen. They have always been more aggressive and heavy handed with their market than Microsoft has. The only difference is that most of the time they are the underdog. In this case, they aren't.

     

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    Dave Bowman, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 7:27am

    quote

    Open the POD bay doors HAL!

    I'm sorry Dave, I have a cease and desist letter from Apple!

     

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    DreadedOne509, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 7:50am

    TSR-80's Next?

    Hell, my TSR-80 was an all-in-one computer...
    As is my Skilcraft Dual Power Calculator. Perhaps I should let Apple know about them damn blind people ripping them off.

     

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    No, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 8:15am

    Product Placement

    Lets see them try to take the name of my next product, the FuckPod. No, Apple, you can't have it!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 8:29am

    Funny that the original intent of patents and copyrights were to 'promote innovation'.

    Yet - the way these companies are abusing it all, it's doing quite the opposite now.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 3:08pm

      Re:

      "Funny that the original intent of patents and copyrights were to 'promote innovation'."

      Here's a Riddle for you: What do Trademark law, Patent Law and Copyright law have in common?

      Answer: Nothing, except you keep confusing the issues by thinking they are the same thing.

      Please, do yourself a favor and read up on what trademark law is and why it is.

       

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    ZephyrXero, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 10:00pm

    Apple=Microsoft

    Apple's not gonna win this one... Apple iPod, and maybe even iPod, they'd win...but pod alone? No... Microsoft found that out when they tried to pull stuff like this with the generic term "windows," as did Intel before them with the numbers 386 & 486.

     

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    Fox, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 10:05am

    Don't take them down, just shut em up.

    I agree with #11's point. I'd like to see nothing more than Microsoft making a music player (we'll say an mPod) and then Apple sueing them for a trademark violation. I mean, right now, it looks to me as though Microsoft is the bigger or more profitable company, but they seem to have way too many things in beta (Windows Live, Vista, Office 207, etc) and I wouldn't be suprised if they don't have very much liquidity with their money. Apple on the other hand has less money but I do see that most if not alll of what they're doing right now is simply selling what they've already developed. Indeed, I could easily see a huge legal battle out of that, simply because bot sides seem to have a fairly equal amount of money to throw at it.

    I don't know if you could prove that an mPod doesnt infringe on the iPod, but I'll say this: I'd like to see somebody make a player called an IPOD (In all caps, perhaps both bolded and italicized) and see if they can win with that.

    I just don't think that the average consumer is this dumb. If a person goes to a store, and they see "Apple iPod" on display in a clear glass case (so they see the brand name, AND the player itself) and next to it they see "Microsoft IPOD" and it's got some kind of Sansa-like look to it but it's orange, I think most people could figure out which one their son or daughter wanted, or even which one they want. To me, the entire point just doesn't stick. Trademark laws aren't here to protect the name of a product. They're here to protect someone else from selling a product under the same name as your product. Selling is the key word there. If I was to get a bunch of scrap metal and build a small compact car and then sell it as a "Fjord Explorer" then I don't think Ford Motor Company has any right to sue me for trademark violation what-so-ever, because if a person wanted an SUV, and they see my compact car, no consumer in their right mind is going to be able to get them comfused, even if the names sound similar when spoken.

     

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    ShellehS, Sep 25th, 2006 @ 4:40am

    Jobs always jokes.

     

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