Did Apple Just Acquire Trademark Rights to the 'AirTag' Name?

MacRumors

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Earlier today, the public release of iOS 13.2 revealed information suggesting Apple may be planning to call its rumored Tile-like item tracking accessory "AirTags."


Looking into the status of any trademark activity surrounding the term, we've come across some curious recent developments that could be signs of Apple acquiring the trademark rights, although we've yet to find a smoking gun concretely linking Apple to the activity.

Citing an international application made in June 2016, a Russian entity known as "Intelligent Systems of Business Control" Ltd in October 2018 filed a trademark application on the AirTag name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The description of the goods and services to be covered by the trademark bear a remarkable similarity to Apple's rumored AirTags:
Systems of radio frequency identification comprised of RFID tags, RFID tag readers, and downloadable software for operating RFID readers; radio frequency identification (RFID) labels; RFID tags in form of cards, tags or key rings; RFID markers in the form of RFID signal receivers; RFID tag bracelets; RFID tag disks; RFID tag stickers; RFID tag stamps; RFID printed circuits; RFID tag boles; RFID ear tags; RFID tags in plastic or glass flasks; RFID tags in the form of keys; flexible cases especially adapted for RFID tags with a graphic image; RFID readers; blank smart cards with integrated circuit cards; computer software, recorded, for maintaining a record of issuance and control of RFID tags; all of the above designed to allow users to automatically identify them to obtain keyless access control for interlocking doors, access to various services, such as public transportation, banking, social events and various loyalty programs and not designed to work with data loggers
After an initial denial and some back-and-forth between the applicant's attorney and trademark examiners, the application was approved in August 2019 to be published for opposition, which gives third parties 30 days to object to the proposed trademark.

On August 28, the same day the USPTO officially served notice that the trademark application would be published for opposition on September 17, the attorney on the application was changed to the Moscow office of Baker & McKenzie, a major law firm that Apple has worked with on a number of occasions in several countries.


A month later, on October 1, ownership of the trademark application was officially transferred to GPS Avion LLC, a company that was only just created in July 2019 and appears to have no public presence. GPS Avion was created in Delaware through the Corporation Trust Company, which is a process Apple has used quite a few times to create shell companies in order to hide its identity when dealing with intellectual property issues.

We have a sneak peek of the AirTag setup process!Apple logo is a placeholder pic.twitter.com/niEqfoW6TX - MacRumors.com (@MacRumors) October 28, 2019

So while there's no evidence directly linking Apple to this AirTag trademark application, the timing of the ownership change and the acquisition by a company seeking to remain anonymous certainly raise suspicions. The use of Baker & McKenzie as the new attorney is also consistent with Apple's past behavior, and at a minimum hints that a major player is behind the acquisition given the firm's prominence.

While we've seen increasing signs of Apple's work on AirTags in recent months, we still don't know when they will debut. An October event would have been a good opportunity to introduce, perhaps as an iOS 13.2 feature, but with that software having been released today and Apple apparently not planning a media event until early next year, it doesn't necessarily look like an AirTags launch is imminent.

Article Link: Did Apple Just Acquire Trademark Rights to the 'AirTag' Name?
 

Analog Kid

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Mar 4, 2003
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As much fun as the cat and mouse game is, I don’t see the point in all the shell companies. If we’re going to allow an applicant to obscure their parent company, then why not just let them withhold that information from public records...
 

lostngone

macrumors 65816
Aug 11, 2003
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Their next product is an embedded tracking chip you can implant in your children called SkinTag.
Yes, but that would be gross....
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I used to play AirTag with my friends on a trampoline as a kid. Do I have any claim to this trademark?
No this is a new game Apple has invented to boost iPhone sales. You throw your iPhone through the air at one of your friends, if you hit them they are tagged. No tag-backs unless you use your iPhone.
 

poorcody

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2013
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As much fun as the cat and mouse game is, I don’t see the point in all the shell companies. If we’re going to allow an applicant to obscure their parent company, then why not just let them withhold that information from public records...
It's usually done when a big rich company is buying a trademark belonging to someone else. If the seller sees Apple is trying to buy it, they probably would ask (and even get) 10x or 100x or even a 1000x the price.
 

Analog Kid

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Mar 4, 2003
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It's usually done when a big rich company is buying a trademark belonging to someone else. If the seller sees Apple is trying to buy it, they probably would ask (and even get) 10x or 100x or even a 1000x the price.
I understand why Apple does it (not important to the point, but I don’t see a purchase listed in this case), but I don’t understand why the system doesn’t shortcut the nonsense— either force transparency, or allow anonymity.
 

John.B

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Jan 15, 2008
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If this is cheaper than Tile, I can see being a smash hit.
If this is better than Tile, I can see being a smash hit.

We’ve been very disappointed with some of the recent changes to the Tile app.

Perhaps a little OT but happy to report my car came with several AirBags. Debating if I should upgrade them to the AirBag Pros.
AirBags Pro? 🙃
 
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slippery-pete

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Jun 23, 2007
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The thought of this gets me excited...if you know what I mean
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If this is better than Tile, I can see being a smash hit.

We’ve been very disappointed with some of the recent changes to the Tile app.



AirBags Pro? 🙃
Teabags pro????
 

konqerror

macrumors 6502a
Dec 31, 2013
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I understand why Apple does it (not important to the point, but I don’t see a purchase listed in this case), but I don’t understand why the system doesn’t shortcut the nonsense— either force transparency, or allow anonymity.
Because the system is set up so that you can contact/legally serve/sue somebody. You have to give the info of a responsible party for that to happen. The system doesn't say you have to identify the owner that the trademark ultimately benefits or the product its going on.

In other words, they have to give enough info so that that lawyers and judges can do their jobs.
 
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Analog Kid

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Because the system is set up so that you can contact/legally serve/sue somebody. You have to give the info of a responsible party for that to happen. The system doesn't say you have to identify the owner that the trademark ultimately benefits or the product its going on.

In other words, they have to give enough info so that that lawyers and judges can do their jobs.
But we’re not to that stage yet. All will be revealed when the Apple AirTags hit the market— the whole point of a trademark is that it’s not secret. Right now it’s just a matter of publishing to see if anyone objects. It seems the USPTO could know the identity of the filer, for the purposes of contacting them, but they could firewall that identity from the public. I guess if there’s an objection, Apple is going to need to interact with the objector at some point, so they’d still want a mask...

i just find all the indirection through shells to be shady in general and not completely effective as this article shows. There’s a legit reason for Apple to want to hide their identity right now, but it seems like there could be less shady ways to achieve that.
 

Compile 'em all

macrumors 601
Apr 6, 2005
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I don't see why they need a media event to release these tags. They should just go ahead and release them next month!