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Apple Warns Companies About 'Pod' Naming

timothy posted more than 7 years ago | from the podcaster's-nightmare dept.

392

eldavojohn writes "In what may be a case of trademark trolling, Apple has issued warnings to makers of other electronic devices containing the word 'pod.' Two companies have been asked to remove the word from their products. Why might this be a mean action by Apple? These two companies don't manufacture MP3 players as one would think would cause confusion. From the article:

Profit Pod is a device that compiles data from vending machines, while TightPod manufactures slip-on covers designed to protect electronic products such as laptops and MP3 players.
Back in the day, if someone was calling an electronic device a 'pod,' I would have thought they were talking about Line 6's Guitar and Bass pods (which I believe have been around for a while). How come they aren't warning Apple about their iPod naming?"

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392 comments

Yeah... (5, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926300)

...because "Line 6's Guitar and Bass pods" were even remotely anywhere near the ballpark of being as well, universally, and ubiquitously known as "iPod", either "back in the day" or now.

...

As to "how come they aren't warning Apple about their iPod naming"; sounds like a fallacious point to me, since the answer is pretty clear: they apparently chose not to "warn" anyone. Also, see the previous point above.

The iPod is practically on the cusp (if not already) of being one of those universal words that is synonymous with "portable music player" - and, in this case, not even because of the same reasons as Kleenex and Xerox, but because nearly all - over 92% [com.com] - of all hard drive-based portable music players actually are iPods.

So when Apple vigorously protects a mark of a product that is so well known and universally popular and desirable (yes, it is "desirable" to most people - that's why there are so many of them, at the price of entire entry level computer systems, no less), even when individual instances could be deemed questionable by others, is it any surprise?

Also, both of these products - Profit Pod and TightPod - are new products, released long after the iPod has been established; while it might be questionable that the former is could be mistaken for an iPod, the latter is an accessory for portable music players. And regardless, Apple needs to defend the mark against real or perceived threats, lest an entity in the future claim that Apple wasn't vigorously protecting it from even possible infringement.

For a mark and product as important as iPod, is it surprising that a company would be very thorough in protecting it? (Does this suck for smaller companies who might not have intended infringement, like Profit Pod? Yep. But if there is a possibility of non-defense in that instance ever being used against Apple as an argument that the mark wasn't properly defended, well, I'm sure you can at least understand the reasoning. Further, the "TightPod" was clearly chosen to play of iPod, unless you ca argue with a straight face that the word "Pod" was just coincidentally included on a protective cover for "portable music players".)

You know what they say about trademarks: protect them, or lose them [wikipedia.org] - especially in an environment where someone might claim the owner didn't protect it.

Re:Yeah... (0)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926319)

Barn door... closed... horse...

Re:Yeah... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926337)

...Escape Pod?

Re:Yeah... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926345)

Isn't it so, that when a product name becomes so popular, that the name is automaticly linked to the product, the product name becomes universal? (bad wording, not a native English speaker)

Examples:
Sony walkman -> all cassette players got to be known as Walkman.
Aspirine -> All pain relieving drugs got to be known as aspirin.

Next: iPod -> mp3-hd player? google->Internet search?

Re:Yeah... (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926433)

That's true that it often happens, and if it does the trademark is lost. This is why companies with very popular products spend so much time and money suing people and embarking on public education campaigns to get people to stop using their name generically.

All of these companies try to get people to call their product by its full name, including function, such as "Zamboni ice resurfacing machine" rather than just "Zamboni," and encourage people to call competitors' products by the actual product description ("ice resurfacing machine"). These campaigns are rarely successful, but the companies still try.

After all, genericization (that's probably not a real word) of a product name is really only the first step in commoditization of that product. After all, if you can't use your name to distinguish your product from anyone else's anymore, that product has essentially become a commodity, and that makes the competitive environment much more challenging. After all, when people buy tissues these days, how many are really loyal to the particular brand Kleenex anymore? How many people care if the personal casette player they buy is actually a Sony Walkman? Or that the copier they buy is actually a Xerox? Or the aspirin they buy is really Bayer Aspirin? And so on.

Re:Yeah... (1)

It's all Krista's Fa (776911) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926508)

Bayer does not have a US trademark on Aspirin. They lost it in WWII.

Re:Yeah... (5, Insightful)

70Bang (805280) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926662)



If they're going after the use of a word or use of pod, what are they going to do about podcast?

They're either going to have to remove that word from everyone's vocabulary (that genie has already left the bottle), or everyone will say they are using the fragment pod from podcast, not iPod.

Apple's not in a good defensive, let alone offensive, position.

Re:Yeah... (0)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926359)

Apple likes to quote market share of the higher-penetration countries, but their worldwide market share of dedicated music player devices is closer to 25%, though it's probably higher if you specify units with mechanical drives.

Re:Yeah... (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926374)

It's a good thing they're warning US companies about a US trademark for (mostly-)US-marketed products, then. ;-)

Re:Yeah... (2, Insightful)

badasscat (563442) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926588)

Apple likes to quote market share of the higher-penetration countries, but their worldwide market share of dedicated music player devices is closer to 25%

What the hell does this even mean? "dedicated music player devices"? I guess that includes transistor radios, boomboxes, cassette tape players, and turntables? Obviously, if you include all music players ever made in any category, Apple's market share is going to be a lot lower than the numbers they quote. But that hardly matters; they're not competing against those products. It would be like saying Microsoft's global market share in "operating systems for electrical devices" is only 10%. Well, they're only actually *in* the computer market, so all those other devices are pretty meaningless in that context.

Apple's worldwide market share for DAPs is way over 25%. The iPod is the #1 mp3 player in more than just the United States. But this trademark issue is only being applied in the United States anyway, so the point is pretty much moot as it is.

Re:Yeah... (4, Insightful)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926365)

No problem. TightPod can just rename their product the "TightSosumi". ;')

Also, Line 6 and Apple's iPod are both music-related; Line 6's pod products came first, so, really, Apple should be careful about the word "pod," because maybe the reason Line 6 didn't care is that the emphasis is on the i in iPod. (But, who knows, really.)

Line 6's stuff is nearly universally known among guitarists and bassists. "People who enjoy music" is simply a bigger market than "people who play guitars." Considering that, I'd say Line 6 has very good recognition (although their 'pod' products aren't as popular now as they once were... I think Zoom's cheaper copycats took care of that).

Re:Yeah... (2, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926398)

I didn't want to mention this in my original post, because the slashdot music-y types - which there are probably a lot more of here than in the general population - would think it was trolling or flamebait, but no: Line 6's products are NOWHERE NEAR anywhere as well known as "iPod". I'm sure they're very well known in guitar circles. I'm sorry to report that is a MUCH smaller market segment than that of "everyone else". Walk down the street and ask people "Do you know what a Line 6 Bass Pod is?" and then ask "Do you know what an iPod is?" and you know just as well as I do that the difference will be stark. Just because creative musician types around slashdot know what it is doesn't invalidate the truth of that point.

Also, it doesn't really matter if Line 6's products came first: they clearly didn't do anything to defend the mark in the context of the iPod mark, period, so the point is moot.

Re:Yeah... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926472)

they clearly didn't do anything to defend the mark in the context of the iPod mark, period
Oh, so you have access to all correspondence received by the Apple legal department?
What you mean to say is you haven't heard of any effort to defend it, dumbass.

Re:Yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926480)

But that's his point. Line 6 pods are well-known in their market. iPods are well-known in their market. These markets overlap; if they didn't, it'd be fine.

Re:Yeah... (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926497)

Line 6 pods are well-known in their market.

iPods are well known by nearly everyone, even those who don't own one.

(And no, I'm not saying that some 95 year old might know what an iPod is, but the point is that people who know what an iPod is are almost universal in comparison with Line 6 pods. Even if you want to still call it a "market", the iPod's "market" is likely orders of magnitude, literally, larger than Line 6's, in terms of sheer numbers of people who know what each product is.)

Re:Yeah... (1, Interesting)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926559)

Also, it doesn't really matter if Line 6's products came first: they clearly didn't do anything to defend the mark in the context of the iPod mark, period, so the point is moot.

I'm sorry but that is just stupid. Hmmmm, maybe just maybe they didn't feel a portable music player was in any related to their product. Face it: All Apple fanboi-ism in the world can't change the fact that this is total BS.

Re:Yeah... (1, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926605)

I didn't claim to know what their motives were. I just said they apparently chose to not "warn" or defend against iPod; the grandparent was making it out to be some huge deal that he did some "research" and, egad, found that Line 6's products were around before the iPod (duh), and then went on to ridiculously say that Apple should be sending itself C&D's. Huh? It's up to trademark owners to decide when they do and don't defend their mark, just as Apple is doing against these other "pod" products here, whether you agree with it or not. I'm not sure how you got what you posted out of my comment. The only point I've made in my posts is that if it can ever be successfully argued by anyone that you didn't vigorously defend your trademark against infringement under all circumstances, you could lose it - and lose associated rights to defend it against legitimate threats. It's much more likely that people would choose to go after - or capitalize on - a product as universally well known and profitable as iPod.

Re:Yeah... (4, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926577)

"Also, it doesn't really matter if Line 6's products came first: they clearly didn't do anything to defend the mark in the context of the iPod mark, period, so the point is moot."

it is an interesting point though, Line 6 didn't defend, so couldn't it be claimed that the "POD" is already in the public domain? in which case what are Apple defending? or does trademark law work in such a way that they can effectively steal one by defending it when another company doesn't?

Re:Yeah... (5, Insightful)

dolson (634094) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926579)

Actually, it does matter.

And trying to protect words that are used in everyday life is ridiculous, and I can't believe anyone in their right mind is arguing for that. First "Windows" and now "Pod" what next, "Mouse"? "Can"? "Pen"?

Will Nintendo start warning people about using the word "Paper" because they have a successful Paper Mario franchise? This is bullshit of the highest degree, right up there with software patents.

If I want to start up a brand of frozen vegetables, I shouldn't have to worry if I wanna call them "Peas-In-A-Pod" for fear of legal issues from Apple. Next thing you know, they'll be taking Granny Smith to court because they call them "apples".

Re:Yeah... (2, Funny)

edmicman (830206) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926580)

so the point is moot
I accept your apology.

Re:Yeah... (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926690)

"Also, it doesn't really matter if Line 6's products came first: they clearly didn't do anything to defend the mark in the context of the iPod mark, period, so the point is moot."

If they're going to get sued by Apple over infringement on "Pod" which they've been using far longer than Apple, even though "Pod" is a generic word in the language already, the point is FAR from moot.

It does not make a lick of difference, either, that "Apple's product is more widely known".

Re:Yeah... (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926377)

Apple does have a point in this case. Because the iPod is so highly associated with Apple Computer, they need to make sure that the actual iPod word is copyright protected correctly to make sure other companies don't intentionally make money of a copyrighted word. After all, the current Linspire Linux distribution was originally called Lindows but since Microsoft expressed concern that this name too closely resembled the Windows trademarked name, that caused the creation of the current Linspire name.

In a Different Community, It Was The Standard (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926394)

Listen, I played bass, I worked at a music store that sold effects pedals. "Pod" meant Line 6's guitar pod. People came in and literally said, "I'll take one pod, please." I'm not kidding you, these things were huge and still are. Go into your local Guitar Center or what ever you have and say, "I'll take one pod, please." You can bet your ass the guy at the counter will pull up a guitar pod and ring it up right there.

If you want more evidence, read this article [sweetwater.com] :
By the end of 2002, the Line 6 people had proven themselves by designing what were unquestionably (to me, in any case) the best amp and effects models available, including the remarkable Vetta amplifiers and the best selling POD modules.
It's very popular among artists, to quote Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : "Their products are used and endorsed by artists such as James Hetfield of Metallica, Matthew Bellamy of Muse, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and The Edge of U2."

Re:In a Different Community, It Was The Standard (5, Interesting)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926465)

Pod and iPod have totally different meanings. I could understand if Apple is worried about people using the term iPod, but Pod is a common word. What's next, Apple trying to stop people from using the word Book since it might be confused with iBook?

Re:Yeah... (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926395)

The iPod is practically on the cusp (if not already) of being one of those universal words that is synonymous with "portable music player"

Really? This is suspect. The iPod has a very distinctive appearance, and a certain aura about it. I can't imagine someone calling their dull black Sony mp3 player an "iPod" without being corrected. Honest question: have people really been using "iPod" this way?

Re:Yeah... (2, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926425)

Yes, some people who have music players that aren't iPods answer, "Yes," when asked "Do you have an iPod?" because it's universally known and simpler than saying "Yes, well, no, I do have a music player, but it's not an iPod, it's something else. I wanted an iPod, but I guess my parents got suckered into the wrong thing at Walgreens."

Techy types and most people who read and post to slashdot would consider it ridiculous to call something that's not an iPod an iPod, but yes, it has gotten that universal in some circles. My point, however, is that in some markets, like the US, it's actually hard to find people who have portable music players that aren't iPods (again, the slashdot crowd is far more likely to contain people who would immediately say "Not true! I have XYZ Music Player running Linux, and blah blah blah."

Re:Yeah... (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926635)

can't imagine someone calling ...

My mom calls her CDs "cassettes"

Re:Yeah... (4, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926410)

The iPod is practically [...] synonymous with "portable music player"
Maybe in the US. Here in Netherlands they are commonly called 'mp3-speler' (=mp3 player).
nearly all - over 92% - of all hard drive-based portable music players actually are iPods.
Again, maybe in the US. The US is not the whole world. From what I have seen a typical electronics store here devotes some 5 to 10% of the digital audio player shelve space to iPods. For HD-based players is might be a bit more, but nowhere near the majority. It might have to do with the fact that in the first few years, the iTMS would not sell outside the US.

My mp3 player is an iAudio which I use almost exclusively for Ogg Vorbis files. Maybe Apple should also go after them for using the 'i'?

Re:Yeah... (1, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926475)

It's a good thing that these are US-based trademarks being defended against US-based and -marketed products, then.

Re:Yeah... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926445)

You know what they say about trademarks: protect them, or lose them

Yeah, yeah. Your in-depth knowledge of trademark law must be a great comfort compared to not having any friends.

Meanwhile, in the real world, trademarks cover a domain. The purpose of this is to allow companies to use words without stampping all over everyone else. For example: "Apple Computers" has no relevence to a name like "Apple Drinks" and no trademark infringement is possible. When Apple stepped out of their domain and into that of Apple Corp, the music company, it became an issue.

"Pod" is a very generic word indeed. To be protected by trademark law it needs to be very specificly applied. Profit Pod is not within the same domain and TightPod is using the actual word "pod" in its dictionary meaning and not for a music player. Apple does not own the dictionary. Thus, there is neither any reason or any need to threaten them. Their existance is of no relevance to whether a judge would rule on Apple's willingness to protect its trademark.

You also seem to think that trademarks are some sort of popularity contrest with comments like 'remotely anywhere near the ballpark of being as well, universally, and ubiquitously known as "iPod"' and 'a mark and product as important as iPod'. There is nothing important about "iPod" from the legal point of view; it is just a name amongst millions of others.

In short: Apple's legal department is doing what Apple's legal department has always done - it is being a bunch of wankers who desparately need to justify their high fees by appearing to do something for their money.

Re:Yeah... (5, Insightful)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926534)

Further, the "TightPod" was clearly chosen to play of iPod, unless you ca argue with a straight face that the word "Pod" was just coincidentally included on a protective cover for "portable music players".)

Yeah, because things in the natural world are never enclosed in a protective pod.

Re:Yeah... (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926553)

So, you are arguing with a straight face that the word "Pod" was just coincidentally included on a protective cover for "portable music players", then?

And yes, that's a serious question: you think that there was zero consideration for "iPod" in any context when that name was chosen?

Re:Yeah... (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926608)

were even remotely anywhere near the ballpark of being as well, universally, and ubiquitously known as "iPod"

What makes you think the brand recognition is important in a trademark dispute?

Re:Yeah... (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926684)

Man, you're a good troll.

You know just as well as I do that the NAME iPod, both in terms of public recognition, and its status as a trademark, are inextricably intertwined.

I'd think you could at least think of a logic troll for me, wmf. ;-)

Re:Yeah... Not Really (1)

crappypatents (928367) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926658)

To me POD is more synonymous with the band P.O.D. .... Apple iPod is a music / media player, MS Windows is an operating system, and they are not respectively peapods or home windows.

revamped movie (4, Funny)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926308)

Dave. Open the pod bay doors, Hal.

Hal. I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Dave. What's the problem?

Hal. Apple discovered my ties to IBM and issued a cease and desist order. You are no longer allowed to open the pod bay door.

Re:revamped movie (3, Funny)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926385)

In further news biologists have been told to find a new collective name for a load of whales.
Answers on a po(stcar)d =P

Much ado about nothing? (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926314)

Apple's afraid that the term ipod will become generic (genericided?). Suing random '*pod' named businesses show's they're 'actively defending' their mark.

Problem is more with trademark law than apple methinks.

For a mild laugh, check out the tightpod website [tightpod.com] (one of the sued comapnies) - spandex clad notebooks (including tiger skin for the suitably inclined osx user)

Re:Much ado about nothing? (2, Insightful)

richdun (672214) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926432)

Problem is more with trademark law than apple methinks.

Bingo. This sounds similar to the story about Google telling media organizations to be cautious about using the words "Google" and "google" now that "google" is in the OED. If you don't at least make an effort to defend, your options on even the most blatant cases get much more difficult.

Re:Much ado about nothing? (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926517)

on even the most blatant cases

Uh, uh - you're thinking logically, try to think like a lawyer for a big company.

You want court cases where you've successfully defended your mark, so rather than go after a blatant case, you go after small, weak companies who are unlikely to afford a court defense. Bingo, another case won, to be used as proof that you've been vigorously defending your mark should you need to go up against a real competitor.

Its not exactly what I'd describe as ethical, but as most companies seem to do it, I'd say the solution lies in trademark law reform.

FryPod (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926317)

Are they also going after Burger King for packaging their medium size fries in a "FryPod"?

BurgerKing has more money than Apple, so no. (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926380)

They wouldn't try to sue Burger King...no way. Notice they are picking companies nobody has heard of. Well, I haven't heard of.

blueroom minipod speakers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926320)

The blueroom minipod speakers have been around for longer than ipods, and they also have the word 'mini' in there!!!1

Good for them! Let's take it to the next step.... (4, Funny)

vishbar (862440) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926321)

They've gone half-way, but now it's time to make SURE that the iPod's name will never be infringed upon. The next logical step is to not allow others to use any name beginning with the letter "i", ESPECIALLY a lower-case "i". Good for Apple, glad to see they're supporting free speech! Because I know that if I see a piece of technology with the word "pod" in it, it immediately becomes indistiguishable from an MP3 player.

Re:Good for them! Let's take it to the next step.. (2, Funny)

NOCjock (995398) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926430)

iI iThink iThat's iThe iSilliest iThing iI've iEver iHeard...

Re:Good for them! Let's take it to the next step.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926446)

That's certainly going to screw up the whole branch of maths involving complex numbers. Perhaps iPods are imaginary.

I Did Some Research (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926322)

Hey, I did a bit of research on Line 6. According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , the iPod debuted on October 23, 2001 (or at least was unveiled).

Thanks to the internet archive, there is evidence of Line 6 having fully developed pods for sale during 2000 [archive.org] and 1999 [archive.org] .

I mentioned this in the summary because I used to play bass pretty regularly and I recall around 2002 when all of the sudden these devices were the de facto standard for high quality multi-effects. Everyone came into the store I worked at asking for "pods." I recall when iPod came out that I was figuring there might be fall out but it never came. They're both associated with playing music but with completely different markets. I only wonder what logic Apple is using to sue these companies using the term Pods.

Afterall, there's a company called Pods that owns www.pods.com that rents pods for people to move their stuff in and that was established in 1998. I'm sure they've trademarked 'pod.' It's so funny how Apple is sending to cease and desist letters to companies when they should send themselves one. What a crazy double standard.

Re:I Did Some Research (2, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926367)

I only wonder what logic Apple is using to sue these companies using the term Pods.

"You didn't sue us to defend your trademark against our use, so you've already lost it; now we're suing you to defend our trademark against your use"?

"Or maybe we can Beatle out a deal?"

Re:I Did Some Research (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926419)

"Or maybe we can Beatle out a deal?"

All we are saying is give peas a chance.

(They came in pods first.)

Ho ho ho, Green Giant.

High Qualtiy Multi-Effects? (1)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926412)

ROFLMAO!! I guess you consider a EH Small Stone a "high quality effect" too?

Re:I Did Some Research (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926451)

Um, it's not up to Apple to defend other peoples' trademarks against itself.

If those other companies wanted to defend their marks, that was up to them. They chose not to. End of story.

Apple IS defending ITS mark against new products that came out long after the iPod mark was established. And the iPod is far, far, far more popular and universally well known than any of the other products you cite.

I'm amazed that you're even remotely surprised by this, or of all of what I noted above and here [slashdot.org] really does escape you.

Re:I Did Some Research (1)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926613)

If those other companies wanted to defend their marks, that was up to them. They chose not to. End of story.

When Apple sues - the apologists defend, When Microsoft sues - well, they're just plain evil

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/01/19/133233 [slashdot.org]

hypocrisy - It's what's for dinner....
{snicker}

Re:I Did Some Research (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926668)

Sorry. Same argument applies to Microsoft in terms of defending its mark.

The guy's *name" was Mike Rowe, but he obviously chose "Mike Rowe Soft" as a cute play on Microsoft, not just because he coincidentally chose to call his company/website that. Now, I'd be the first to agree that will probably never in anyone's wildest dreams be confused with Microsoft, just as Profit Pod will likely not be confused with iPod. But that's not the point: the point is someone, somewhere, at some point in the future, possibly being able to make a successful argument that Apple or Microsoft or whoever did NOT vigorously protect their mark in a certain instance of infringement when they should have. And for companies that have as much, comparatively, riding on names, brands, and trademarks as Apple and Microsoft, the reasons they do this should be pretty obvious.

Incorrect assumptions - it's what's for dinner for you, apparently.

Re:I Did Some Research (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926615)

Steve Jobs needs to die. I can't wait for the cancer to finally win.

Re:I Did Some Research (1)

ExE122 (954104) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926547)

"Afterall, there's a company called Pods that owns www.pods.com that rents pods for people to move their stuff in and that was established in 1998. I'm sure they've trademarked 'pod.' It's so funny how Apple is sending to cease and desist letters to companies when they should send themselves one."

They can't sue them because PODS (Portable On-Demand Storage) isn't in the same realm of consumer goods as the iPod. RTFA: Apple has issued warnings to makers of other electronic devices containing the word 'pod.'

Call it a crazy double-standard, but I think its really more a problem with trademark law.

What I do think is ridiculous about this is that these companies, despite developing electronic devices, aren't even trying to rip off Apple. It looks like Jobs & company just want to flex their muscles to try to intimidate others.

There are all sorts of knock-off electronic devices (like the Super Shuffle [engadget.com] ) that play mp3s that Apple is steamed up about but cannot stop. Sure they develop a nearly identical product, but they slip through the cracks because they don't actually violate any trademarks.

This doesn't just happen with iPods. I remember a few years ago when I was in Europe at a Russian flea market, they had knock-offs of EVERYTHING: Milson leather jackets, PlanStation games, Adadis shoes, Pamasomic TVs... and I'm sure they now have their iPod knock-offs. And while I'm sure anyone caught doing this got in some sort of trouble, I think they butcher the names just enough to slip by on any trademark violation suit. I also think it ends up being a waste of time and money for large corporations to chase down these small-time bootleggers.

Meanwhile, an honest company like TightPod is getting reamed because of a three letter word.

--
"A man is asked if he is wise or not. He replies that he is otherwise" ~Mao Zedong

Re:I Did Some Research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926584)

They can't sue them because PODS (Portable On-Demand Storage) isn't in the same realm of consumer goods as the iPod. RTFA: Apple has issued warnings to makers of other electronic devices containing the word 'pod.'
But Tightpod doesn't manufacture anything electronic, just slip case for electronic devices. Literally a textile product, not an electronic product. I don't think that's really in the realm.

2001 (0, Redundant)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926324)

Open the Music player doors Hal.

The Golden Rule, Corporate Style (4, Informative)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926329)

When you were small, Apple Records could put the squeeze on you for being "Apple Computer". But when you get big, you get to do to unto others as once you hoped would not be done unto you.

Confusion? (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926344)

I really hope that no one confuses the maker of the Profit Pod [mach5products.com] with Apple [apple.com] . There is a slight difference in the websites. I know that there are music related products out there that have tried to use the suffix "pod" in order to score some points from Apple, just like a Korean company started marketing the Super Shuffle [engadget.com] . These products are questionable, but there is no way that a data collection device for arcade machines infringes on Apple or the iPod product family. Microsoft isn't attacking OpenOffice and WordPerfect Office. I think Apple is really out on a limb on some of their cease-and-desist operations.

Re:Confusion? (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926439)

Heh, when they said "Profit Pod" in the summary, I thought they were referring to some new Apple Hardware that ensures they get every last dime of royalties from all their stupid naming conventions.

Like all Apple products, the user interface provides only the needed functions, and comes with only one button:

PROFIT Pod (pPod): Unlicensed name use detected, sending Cease and Desist.
PROFIT Pod (pPod): Press Button to file a motion.

Obvious answer (5, Informative)

mhazen (144368) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926349)

How come they aren't warning Apple about their iPod naming?



Because unlike Apple, they don't have a history of being overly litigious. Apple has sued or threatened to everyone from their own customers, to Google.

HAL (0, Redundant)

Pebble (99243) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926355)

Dave. Rotate C-pod, please, Hal.
Frank. What sort of trouble have you been having, Dave?
Dave. I've been getting some interference on D channel.
Frank. Hmm. We'll have a look at it.
Dave. Open the door, Hal...Rotate pod, please, Hal...Stop pod rotation, please, Hal...(turns off switches for communications)...Rotate the pod, please, Hal...(louder) Rotate the pod, please, Hal...I don't think he can hear us.
HAL. I can hear you fine Dave, It's just Apple won't let us call any self contained unit a pod anymore. And to think, I used to enjoy working with human beings.

well (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926356)

The lawyers of Apple are quite happy to harp on about "not letting names fall into public domain" and "brand recognition" but when I suggested that it might be nice for Apple to be a little less threatening to companies who have little to do with their field, such as that only an idiot in a hurry could mix them up, they looked at me like I was no better than Howard Scott Warshaw. The Swines!

Re:well (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926536)

They are however quite willing to take words out of the public domain, like "pod" or hmmm well, "apple".

Sniffer pods (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926372)

If anyone is keeping track, there are obviously lots of things called "pods" One that comes into mind for me is the NAI Sniffer "pods" which were network connection dongles to sniff various network technologies.

Trademark dilution (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926375)

The problem is an absolutely stupid and misguided part of US trademark law called the Federal Anti-Dilution Act. This allows owners of famous marks to go after users of similar marks in any field, even fields where there would be no confusion. There's no doubt that "iPod" is a famous mark. It's the trademark winner-take-all act.

Though to be fair, Apple might have a case against a maker of MP3 player sleeves even without anti-dilution.

Their next move (2, Funny)

The_Pariah (991496) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926386)

...is to copright i*

Let them kill the whole third party accessory market. And anything evenly remoted related to Apple products. They're most likely not making money of these items.

Next up... Apple sues God... (4, Funny)

GoatMonkey2112 (875417) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926390)

...for putting peas in a pod.

Re:Next up... Apple sues God... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926440)

Then these guys [peapod.com] are in real trouble.

Re:Next up... Apple sues God... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926523)

Then, since "iPod" has four letters, Apple sues the makers of all other four-letter words...

I know an IP lawyer who needs work. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926400)

Could someone name their music player "McPod" please?

He's behind on his 'Benz payments and could use the work defending someone. "McPod" should bring in McDonals and Apple into a lawsuit.

Thank you!

Consumer confusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926403)

The trademark law is set up to prevent consumer confusion. The classic case would be Apple Computers vs. Apple Music (the Beatles' label). Apple Computers was allowed to keep its name because they didn't market music. Therefore there was no chance of consumer confusion. Of course now that Apple has the iPod and iMusic, the chance of consumer confusion is greatly increased. Their lawyers are turning themselves inside out trying to explain why Apple Music doesn't have a case.

The actual law is one thing but reality is another. Hiring a lawyer to defend yourself against Apple would bankrupt most small companies so, when they get the letter from Apple's lawyer, they normally just fold and change their name.

Why not sue Apple? (1, Redundant)

halivar (535827) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926404)

Back in the day, if someone was calling an electronic device a 'pod,' I would have thought they were talking about Line 6's Guitar and Bass pods (which I believe have been around for a while). How come they aren't warning Apple about their iPod naming?"
Maybe it's because the Line6 folks aren't litigious bastards?

Re:Why not sue Apple? (1)

MyNameIsEarl (917015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926525)

Maybe it's because no one outside of musicians and people who hope to one day be musicians have ever heard of Line 6 or a bass pod.

Al Gore (1)

bbhack (98541) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926407)

Al Gore is on the board of Apple. Not that this is fact is pertinent,
but it changed the way I look at Apple.

What can he possibly offer as a board member?

Re:Al Gore (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926462)

Connections. Influence. Gravitas.

Re:Al Gore (1)

shotgunefx (239460) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926531)

He keeps them safe from ManBearPig

I feel the same way about Bill Campbell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926568)

You'd think with a fomer Intuit CEO/current Intuit board member on Apple's board, Intuit's Mac support would be better and all of their Mac products would have 100% feature parity with their Windows versions. But you'd be wrong.

Every time I get the ballot I vote against keeping him.

eh? (1)

itsthebin (725864) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926434)

Does this mean my prophalacyic line "pod sheath" is now dead in the water ? ? ?

There went my EyePawd Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926467)

Back to the drawing board I guess...

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1)

deanj (519759) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926484)

I guess they'll be retroactively suing the makers of Invasion of the Body Snatchers....

To borrow a line from Lonesome Dove (1)

crazyjeremy (857410) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926495)

"This water's so cold it shriveled my pod!"
I assumed what he was speaking of was NOT an MP3 player, but I guess it's possible.

Holy Body Snatchers Batman! (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926499)

The Pod People [wikipedia.org] just took over Apple's legal department. Is Steve one of them?

PS: I hope someone with more talent than me does a good mst3k-quality sendup of Apple's legal threats.

They can kiss my shiney metal.... (1)

ndg123 (801212) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926502)

...pod.

Can Apple actually protect the term "Pod" (2, Informative)

rayzat (733303) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926513)

One of the definitions of pod is "Something resembling a pod, as in compactness. " IANAL but I did recently take a class on patents, trademarks, and copyrights and one of the things we discussed was that trademarks that include generic terms had trouble being enforced. We specifically talked about Krispy Kreme. Krispy Kreme's trademark is specifically on Krispy Kreme with K's. They have tried to sue several people for selling products, even donuts with the name crispy cream, but when business have fought back the courts have always pretty much ruled that it wasn't a violation of trademark and the only way it would be was if the company specifically called it a Krispy Kreme something or other.
That being said Apple is probably just trying to cast a wide net in trying protect it's iPod trademarks. I think that the precedent set by other products( I have a Game Pod sitting on my desk that I got back in 98 that has 40 different card games) that pod generically defines any product that is compact in nature.

TM (2, Interesting)

certel (849946) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926528)

Do they had a trademark on the term 'Pod'?

Crazy kids and their crazy naming things... (1)

Geek-o-phile (983866) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926530)

At the end of the day, aside from its own ulterior motives, Apple is just forcing people to be original. Ahh, the few but priceless trickle benefits of capitalism. It becomes a rather boring market if we're all basing our product name off of the guy who made original successful use of the moniker.

As for the POD Line 6 products-is the capitalization just there for emphasis, or is it indicative of an acronym? That may influence business/naming strategies as well as disputes.
Also, perhaps this is just me, but it doesn't appear that in this case Apple is ripping off a name in order to emulate enormous success. More likely, herein exists a coincidental usage that proved more profitable for one manufacturer than the other. We don't seem to encounter the same useless mimicking for profit's sake caused by feeble marketing teams.

Besides, if there's anything that's a better rip off, it's the "i" prefix. Can't trademark a letter... can you?
iHope not.
f so, we're all n a shtload of a pckle.

In other headlines... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926533)

Mac Fagboys, I mean fanboys, come out of the woodwork in droves to defend their beloved idol of faggot worship.

The Courts Require It (3, Insightful)

Shannon Love (705240) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926543)

The sad truth is that unless a trademark holder defends their trademark to a near insane degree courts in the last 30 years have shown a hair trigger willingness to rule that the trademark has moved into the public domain. The courts don't just take into evidence the infringement cases that a holder won but all the cases the holder filed. The courts consider the mere filing of the suit as evidence of defense of the trademark regardless of the merits of the case. Accused infringers will defend themselves by pointing out all possible cases of infringement in which the holder did not sue. As a result the trademark holder files a blizzard of suits, many if not most without strong merit, merely to demonstrated to the courts that they vigorously defend their trademark.

This is definitely a case of "don't blame the player, blame the game."

Pea's in trouble (1)

lexicon5 (961305) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926550)

Guess it must be a fruit / vegetable thing. Apples deciding that peas don't grow in pods!

Trade Mark i** (2, Funny)

calcutta001 (907416) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926551)

Just wait till they trademark "i" . Anything that starts with 'i' will be claimed as TM infringement :-/ iPod, iMac, iSync, iGO, iGive,iRobot ???

Re:Trade Mark i** (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926637)

Apple can't trademark the "i". HP had the iPAQ long before Apple thought of making a music player.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPAQ [wikipedia.org]

Crestron CEN-IPOD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926565)

Crestron Electronics [crestron.com] , makers of home automation equipment, recently changed the name of their CEN-IPOD interface dock to the CEN-IDOC.

Well I guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15926572)

That the "PODS" storage people http://www.pods.com/ [pods.com] need to watch out because aparently they are just profiting off the iPod craze. You know I always found it hard to tell the difference between a large metal storage box and a pocket sized MP3/Video player. I'm glad to hear that eventually I won't have to think for myself anymore. Not to mention we are going to have to kill off the rest of the whale in the world how dare they travel in Pods!!! I always wonder why I didn't buy an iPod and this is why. Neither of the 2 items this story is about will be confused with them but they don't care. Next it will be anything with the letter "i" in it can't be used in a product name as it might confuse people into thinking Apple make the item.

PODS (1)

stry_cat (558859) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926583)

When I hear the word pod, I think of PODS [pods.com] , Portable On-Demand Storage. iPod is a blatant ripoff of PODS, since the iPOD just "stores" your electronic crap, just like a POD stores your physical crap.

I think they should be able to trademark iPod, but not the word pod. Besides the pod has been in the dictionary [reference.com] for quite a long time.

McSue (1)

4solarisinfo (941037) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926609)

If you want a real lesson on suing over transcendental Trademark infringements, try to sell any kind of food with "Mc" in the name. Even in Edie Murphy's movie "Coming to America" had a side-story about Mr. McDowell being sued and harassed over the name of his 'McDowells' restaurant. Common and expected use carries a lot of weight.

...pod.. to be, or not to be. That is the question (1)

Auger Duval (806421) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926634)

They can't do that. Pod is a legitimate word. I think George Lucas should sue Apple for using the word pod. He had "pod racing" before they had the iPod. And their going after "i" as well. Why not "e"... eMail, eTickets, eCommerce. Get off your high horse Apple.

No confusion at all (2, Interesting)

gotrootkit (993581) | more than 7 years ago | (#15926647)

"pod -Apple -mp3 -iPod"

Google any similar variant of the above search, and it is obvious how broad 'pod' reaches. Had the exclusions knocked out a significant percentage over just the single term, then Apple might have a point.

The company could have initially called their product the "Apple Pod" but they knew the protective measures of creating a new word. They cannot have it both ways -- consumers aren't being confused by POD.

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