Podcast Trademark Controversy

What do you think of Apple's trademark attempts?

  • Fair Game: Apple owns everything 'pod'

    Votes: 31 23.1%
  • Foul: Apple is overstepping its bounds

    Votes: 89 66.4%
  • No opinion, or who cares about trademarks?

    Votes: 14 10.4%

  • Total voters
    134

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
46,791
8,960


A recent apparent cease-and-desist letter sent to Podcast Ready (makers of a software product called myPodder) by Apple has lit a firestorm in the blogosphere and online community. According to Eliot Van Buskirk at Wired.com, the cease-and-desist letter claimed that both the company's name and software infringed on Apple's trademarks.

While Apple's attempts at safeguarding its trademarks is nothing new, the move is striking fears that Apple is trying to take over the term "podcast". ZDNet's Russel Shaw posts a good summary of recent trademark attempts by Apple to register such terms as iPodcast.

Indeed, MacRumors' own research has found evidence that Apple has attempted to further the reach of its existing trademarks. The following describes a change Apple proposed to its existing iPod trademark (change applied for 06/18/05, final denial 05/22/06):

A full line of electronic and mechanical accessories for portable and handheld digital electronic devices for recording, organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing text, data, audio and video files; electronic docking stations; stands specially designed for holding portable and handheld digital electronic devices; battery chargers; battery packs; electrical connectors, wires, cables, and adaptors; wired and wireless remote controls for portable and handheld digital electronic devices; headphones and earphones; stereo amplifier and speaker base stations; automobile stereo adapters; audio recorders; radio receivers; radio transmitters; image scanners; video viewers, namely video monitors for portable and handheld digital electronic devices; and, electronic memory card readers; a full line of computer software for portable and handheld digital electronic devices for recording, organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing text, data, audio, image, and video files; computer application software for recording and organizing calendars and schedules, to-do lists, and contact information; computer game software; and, computer software for clock and alarm clock functionality; carrying cases, sacks, and bags, all for use with portable and handheld digital electronic devices for recording, organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing text, data, audio, image, and video files.
Currently, Apple's existing iPod trademark is much more restrictive.

Portable and handheld digital electronic devices for recording, organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing text, data, and audio files; computer software for use in organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing text, data, and audio files on portable and handheld digital electronic devices
In addition, Apple has an open trademark application for "pod":

portable and handheld digital electronic devices for recording, organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing audio files, and peripherals for use therewith; computer software for use in organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing audio files on portable and handheld digital electronic devices
Currently, the "pod" trademark appears to be encountering some resistance, as a request for an extension of time to file an opposition to the trademark has been filed with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. It was not immediately clear who is asking for the extension.

Of additional possible relevance, it appears a few enterprising individuals have already attempted to trademark the term "podcast". In both cases found by MacRumors, non-final action has been mailed by the U.S. trademark office, which either indicates a initial refusal or a request for additional information. Currently, no corporation or individual appears to hold a trademark (in the U.S.) to the term "podcast."
 

iAlan

macrumors 65816
Dec 11, 2002
1,143
1
Location: Location:
I can undestand Apple's motivation on this -- they have conciderable investment in all things iPod.

What if another company wanted to trademark 'Podcast' or a similar term? Would there be as much controversy about them wanting to own it as there is against Apple?
 

randyharris

macrumors regular
Jul 10, 2006
134
2
I don't think this will serve Apple any good to stop podcasters from using Pod in the name. It will only create ill-will and lessen the use of Pod which I would think would be a good thing for Apple.
 

NewSc2

macrumors 65816
Jun 4, 2005
1,043
0
New York, NY
This is a stupid move by Apple. The term "podcast" inherently advertises iPod. Now everybody (such as ESPN and etc.) is going to get scared and change their daily podcasts to some other name that doesn't automatically conjure a connection to an iPod.
 

Tommyg117

macrumors 6502a
Sep 27, 2005
570
0
Philadelphia, PA
kev0476 said:
whenever i hear podcast i immediately think of apple, so why is apple shutting down free advertising?
Very good point, I associate it with Apple as well. I think it is a part of iTunes kind of like a cd in relation to a best buy.
 

WildCowboy

Administrator/Editor
Staff member
Jan 20, 2005
17,241
1,136
According to US law, a trademark holder MUST defend their trademarks, or they risk losing them. Google is struggling with this, as they're trying to encourage people not to use it as a generic verb.

Wikipedia Linky
 

revjay

macrumors regular
Nov 25, 2004
160
0
Beautiful Vancouver Island
Think About It

kev0476 said:
whenever i hear podcast i immediately think of apple, so why is apple shutting down free advertising?
Ever think that Apple might not want you to think of them when you download some of the crap podcasts that would be, and have already become available???

Apple would lose control of something they have been able to, for the most part, control up to now.

Like Janet Jackson, Apple likes control.
 

Bern

macrumors 68000
Nov 10, 2004
1,855
1
Australia
The phrase Podcast didn't exist until the development of Apple's iPod so I don't see why they shouldn't own the rights to it or at least have some level of control for it's use.
 

Abstract

macrumors Penryn
Dec 27, 2002
24,414
124
Location Location Location
Bern said:
The phrase Podcast didn't exist until the development of Apple's iPod....
So? Some words like "Podcast" are adopted from popular culture. I still talk about Walkmans, not "Portable Audio Cassette Decks". Imagine how annoying that would be to say every time?

I can understand why they want to protect the iPod name. That is their name, and that is their product. However, they really should leave "Podcast" alone. Having a "Podcast" is like the ultimate insult to everyone like Creative, Microsoft, etc. The name "Podcast" exists not because people want to leech off of the iPod's popularity, but because of the iPods popularity, and how endeared it is by our culture. These "Podcasts" were created to be downloaded onto iPods so that people can listen. In our society, iPod comes to mind first. Nobody was thinking of creating these audiocasts with the Creative Zen or MS Zune in mind. If they end up on a Zune, that's fine, but the thought was to get their content on iPods, which is really quite a compliment to Apple when you think about it.

Apple should really reconsider their actions.
 

theBB

macrumors 68020
Jan 3, 2006
2,453
3
WildCowboy said:
According to US law, a trademark holder MUST defend their trademarks, or they risk losing them. Google is struggling with this, as they're trying to encourage people not to use it as a generic verb.

Wikipedia Linky
I was going to point out that Bayer already lost Aspirin and Xerox came very close, but thanks for the link. Still, podcast is different enough compared to iPod that Apple is probably not at risk. However, "probably" is not the same as "definitely".
 

Deputy-Dawg

macrumors member
Aug 23, 2006
90
0
Kimberly Clark fought, and lost, the same battle over 'kleenex' becoming a generic noun for facial tissue. Bayer lost it over 'asprin' as the name for sodium acetosalcylate. And there are numerous other examples. All were lost because the owners of the trade name did not vigorously defend their trade name. Apple is doing what it must. Will they suceed? If history is any clue probably not
 

fastred

macrumors member
Feb 23, 2004
37
8
New Zealand
Bloggers get hyper over everything...

Cripes... it helps to *read* around a bit before loosing your rag...

Bloggers always go overboard on this stuff. It is clear that Apple is trying to protect their "iPod" brand, not attack "podcast" per se...

See the Zdnet dicussion of this, which includes an excerpt of a letter from Apple which specifically excludes "podcast" as a term they are seeking to protect...

http://blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony/?p=1252

To many people jump on bandwagons before they check their facts...
 

iMeowbot

macrumors G3
Aug 30, 2003
8,636
0
Deputy-Dawg said:
Kimberly Clark fought, and lost, the same battle over 'kleenex' becoming a generic noun for facial tissue.
Their mark is still valid, other tissues still can't call themselves "kleenex".
Bayer lost it over 'asprin' as the name for sodium acetosalcylate.
That was punishment against the German government at the end of World War I. The country was stripped of pretty much all intellectual property that was used internationally.

A real example of a trademark lost through sloppy protection on the part of the owner is Escalator. Otis Elevator lost the mark because even they didn't take care to use it as a proper name.
 

gwangung

macrumors 65816
Apr 9, 2003
1,106
19
Abstract said:
So? Some words like "Podcast" are adopted from popular culture. I still talk about Walkmans, not "Portable Audio Cassette Decks". Imagine how annoying that would be to say every time?

I can understand why they want to protect the iPod name. That is their name, and that is their product. However, they really should leave "Podcast" alone. Having a "Podcast" is like the ultimate insult to everyone like Creative, Microsoft, etc. The name "Podcast" exists not because people want to leech off of the iPod's popularity, but because of the iPods popularity, and how endeared it is by our culture. These "Podcasts" were created to be downloaded onto iPods so that people can listen. In our society, iPod comes to mind first. Nobody was thinking of creating these audiocasts with the Creative Zen or MS Zune in mind. If they end up on a Zune, that's fine, but the thought was to get their content on iPods, which is really quite a compliment to Apple when you think about it.

Apple should really reconsider their actions.
Hm?

This really doesn't make sense.

The word "Podcast" is derived from iPod, of course, but the CONCEPT of podcast is not inherently ipod-related. Because of that, it inherently dilutes the iPod trademark. You could just as easily call it an MP3-cast, and not have people be confused that it's coming from Apple (and the fact that Apple has been continually trying to trademark iPodcast itself for quite some time is another interesting bit of info).

The very fact that you're trying to have it cover Zune, Creative, etc. when it's derived from a specific product shows that Apple HAS to protect its trademark, particularly when another company is trying to profit from that name.
 

WildCowboy

Administrator/Editor
Staff member
Jan 20, 2005
17,241
1,136
iMeowbot said:
Their mark is still valid, other tissues still can't call themselves "kleenex".
Correct. Wikipedia has a good list of generic (almost certainly no longer enforceable) trademarks and genericized (commonly used generically but regarded as defendable) trademarks.
 

bcsmith

macrumors member
Jan 6, 2004
63
0
Oaktown, CA
The only thing that I'm skeptical about this whole thing is that the actual cease and desist letter has not been published. All we have are a few people claiming that Apple has slapped them with a letter and the "poor us" act. Once I see the letter I'll be more apt to believe these claims, until then I think that they are just trying to drum up hits on their sites...
 

840quadra

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 1, 2005
8,151
3,410
Twin Cities Minnesota
I am actually afraid of this for Apple!

This is just going to give bad press, and get people to start to compare Apple to the RIAA with regards to lawsuits.

I understand Apple wanting to protect it's name, however they promoted podcasting , and do within many of their products, so trademarking it is just going to crush the little guys that recently started to support and like Apple.

I think this is a bad move, and worries me!
 

bloodycape

macrumors 65816
Jun 18, 2005
1,373
0
California
Kind of reminds me of how Monster Cable went after everything that had the word monster in it, like the movie Monsters INC., Monster.com and others.