Apple legal claims the word ‘Pod’

“Apple has laid legal claim to the word ‘Pod,’ arguing that other companies that use the word as part of their product names risk infringing the trademark of its popular iPod music player,” Richard Waters reports for The Financial Times.

Waters reports, “The legal campaign, which in recent days has drawn challenges to products with names such as Profit Pod and TightPod, reflects a broader attempt by some of the most successful consumer technology companies to prevent their best-known product names slipping into common useage beyond their control.”

“Dave Ellison, whose company, Mach5Products, makes the Profit Pod, said he had been sent a “cease and desist” request by Apple’s lawyers last week, just after receiving trademark recognition for his product name in the US,” Waters reports. “The success of the iPod has led to widespread adoption of the word “Pod” in relation, for instance in the term podcasting. Companies that have made use of the word in their product or corporate names range from DoPod, a Chinese maker of personal digital assistance, to PodShow, a company that distributes podcasts.”

Full article here.

“This week, the Apple legal team has caused a bit of a stir by trying to claim the word “pod”. Even if your product is nothing like the iPod in the way it looks, feels or even smells, it appears that you can still face a lawsuit from Apple if your trademark contains the word Pod in it. This is exactly what happened to a small family business when they invented a digital device to aid in their business of making arcade game machines,” QJ.NET reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Schlaeps” for the heads up.]
We’re unsure of the legal precedent here, but it seems like a stretch by Apple if the products are totally unrelated to iPod and used in completely different industries.

48 Comments

  1. If the product IN ANY WAY benefits even slightly from an association to the iPod or Apple, then it infringes upon their copyright. End of discussion.

    Copyright law requires that you actively defend your claim. If you don’t you loose it.

    No more noise about the big mean Apple lawyers, please. FUD.

  2. This is not a copyright issue. A copyright “protects an original artistic or literary work.”

    A trademark “is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.”

    This is a trademark issue.

    However, it IS correct that your product with the word “Pod” in it should not cause confusion between your product and Apple’s own “iPod” branded players.

    Calling your music player an “xPod” = bad

    Calling your “infrared data transmission and collection system, namely an infrared data transmission and collection system for amusement games comprised of a meter for counting input signals from switches, a processor for processing the signals so that they may be transmitted by an infrared signal, an infrared signal generator and software for programming hand held computers that can detect and process infrared signals” product a “Profit Pod” should NOT cause any such confusion in the market. Especially since it’s an entirely different market!

    Apple should not win this one if Mach5Products decides to fight back.

  3. This is why normal people should be required to shut the hell up about legal matters unless they know what they’re talking about.

    If Apple doesn’t sue everyone that uses ‘Pod’ in a product that in even the slightest most remote way is similar to the iPod, then every time they fail to challenge, those similarities now become a precedent for others to use the word Pod. Imagine a trademark as a giant brick. If you get thousands of people taking small pieces, pretty soon there isn’t much left and iPod could even be termed generic. As much as people refer to Zens and Sansas as iPods, it’s already in danger.

    This is an electronic device related to gaming. The iPod can be plugged into an XBox 360, and includes solitaire and breakout. Yes, this is a totally stupid infinitely remote resemblance, BUT, this is the law, it never makes any sense. If Apple doesn’t defend the trademark, then ANYTHING that is electronic, and related to games could call itself a Pod. If they do challenge, Apple and the Profit Pod people go to thunderdome (court), and if Apple wins, they change the name of the Profit Pod, if Profit Pod wins, then there is an exception to the Pod rule, ONLY for the Profit Pod.

    And as much as people want to bitch, look at the nature of the people being sued. They knew the popularity of the iPod and wanted to capitalize on that to gain themselves some exposure in their marketplace, rather than coming up with their own brand and building that. That’s the whole reason that trademark laws exist – to prevent people from using the brand-building of others for their own products.

  4. What about the “Pod” made by Line6. It’s a digital audio guitar amp emulator that has been on the market for at least 5 years. It has nothing to do with the Apple POD but it is a portable digital audio device. I wonder how that will play out.

  5. This is not a case of someone else using Apple’s trademark “iPod.”

    Zens and Sansas being referred to as “iPods” by the public is the same as the public referring to generic facial tissue as “Kleenex.” This is commonly referred to as “genericized trademarks.” Yes, Apple needs to EDUCATE the consumers to not do this or they’ll be the next “escalator.”

    It is not the same as someone using an unprotected and common English word, “pod”, as part of their product name without intent to capitalize on or compete in Apple’s market.

    Mach5Products did not refer to their product as a “pPod” or an “iPod for arcade games.” Nor is their product sold in the consumer marketplace. It’s a data collection tool for amusement (arcade) game consoles.

    Merriam Webster defines a “pod” as “…a compartment (as for personnel, a power unit, or an instrument)…”

    Hmm. Sounds suspiciously like the exact function the “Profit Pod” has.

    Mach5Products are NOT capitalizing on an existing market so much as capitalizing on the English language.

    Interestingly, no where else can I find reference to a “pod” as a personal music playing device — and that includes Apple’s own dictionary as provided by Oxford American Dictionaries.

    Sure Apple can sue. But they’ll lose. And they may even set a precedent they don’t care to set on the use of the word “pod” in electronic products of all sorts.

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