updated 04:20 am EDT, Tue August 15, 2006
'Pod' mark ownership
Apple is again aggressively trying to control its iPod trademark and branding; however, a new report suggests that the company may have gone too far with its current efforts. Having already registered 'pod' in Europe (and with a pending US application), Apple's legal team has sent a 'cease & desist' to companies using 'pod' in their own product names and materials--even "if the product you make doesn't look, smell, feel, or do anything remotely close to what an iPod does, and even if consumers can't buy it on the shelves in a store, that apparently doesn't mean Apple won't release its legal dogs on you if the name of your product includes the letters P-O-D," according to ZDNet. New reports note that the company has sent cease and desist letters to at least two companies that use 'pod', including a company that manufacturers a device that can be used to wirelessly track sales from an arcade game using a PC.
Apple has also gone after a company that uses the 'pod' mark in its www.tightpods.com URL to sell printed spandex laptop cases--designed specifically for Apple products. Neither product appears to bear any direct resemblance to the iPod, despite Apple's claims to the contrary.
In its letter to TightPods, Apple noted that it already owns registrations for the 'POD' trademark in European Community and has a pending application in the US (serial No. 78/459,101) for the POD mark.
"We believe there is confusing similarity between Apple's IPOD and POD marks and the TIGHTPOD mark. TIGHTPOD is a POD-suffixed mark, which incorporates a substantial portion of Apple's IPOD mark and the POD mark in its entirety," the company said in its letter to TightPods. "The products are indisputably related: TIGHTPOD bags are for direct use with Apple's IPOS device ("Protective carrying cases for portable music players namely MP3 players"). As such, the TIGHTPOD mark will inevitably cause consumer confusion as to the source of the products and dilute Apple's famous IPOD mark."
Earlier this year, Apple filed a trademark infringement claim against a company that owns--but is not yet using--the term "spod". The Spodradio website claims to be the next-generation of mobile radio, enabling users to subscribe to podcasts on smartphones without the need to connect to a PC--and thus bypassing Apple's iTunes.