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August 16, 2006

Pod in Your Product Name? You'll be Hearing from Apple Soon

Apple has started to hassle other vendors that use the word "pod" as part of a product name.  The Daily Tech highlights one of these alter products, the Profit Pod, created by Mach 5.  Apple claims that the Profit Pod infringes on Apple's trademarks and sent the company a cease and desist letter.  Apple also claims that Mach 5 cannot trademark the term here or anywhere. 

The Profit Pod does not have anything to do with music and, if the picture on the Daily Tech site is any indication, doesn't remotely resemble an iPod by any stretch of the imagination, unless you happen to be one of Apple's lawyers.  (It is arguable that imagination in a lawyer is a legal construct in any event.)  The product is used in arcade machines to indicate the amount of money that has been deposited in the machine without having to open it up.

There was a company, I think it was called Microsoft, that sued another company called Lindows.  Microsoft tried to squash Lindows like a bug but a federal judge ruled that the jury had to consider whether the term "Windows" was generic before Microsoft made it famous.  Trademark threatened, Microsoft cut a settlement (terms undisclosed) and Lindows became Linspire.

Let's see what we can think of before the iPod existed: 

  • Peapod (the vegetable and the online grocery delivery store)
  • "Open the pod doors, Hal" (referring to an object)
  • "Lord Vader, the battle station plans are not aboard this ship! And no transmissions were made. An escape pod was jettisoned during the fighting, but no life forms were aboard."  (referring to an object, although R2D2 and 3CPO could have been listening to Air Supply on the way down)
  • The pod people of The Night of the Living Dead (Zombies from an object)
  • Portable On-Demand (POD®) storage containers (see the web site)
  • Payable-On-Demand (legal term)
  • A group of whales (from 1832 according to the OED with other references to other usages as a noun back to 1573, and as a verb to 1530)

Oh, just do a Google search on the word "pod" and see how ridiculous this is.  Apple may wind up having to buy off any potential infringer or potentially lose their trademark status.  Microsoft didn't want to risk that, and they have way more money and more at stake than Apple.

August 16, 2006 | Permalink

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