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    Apple goes to bat over "Pod" trademark

    Sarala V. Nagala, Samuelson Law, Technology, & Public Policy Clinic, Boalt Hall UC Berkeley, October 19, 2006

    Abstract: Apple seeks to extend its trademark reach from "iPod" to all uses of the word "pod" in product names.

    Apple already owns a trademark for its signature digital musical player, the iPod, but it is seeking to broaden its reach to the word “pod.” The company recently applied to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the word “pod” as a trademark.

    Apple has been sending cease and desist notices to organizations that use the word “pod” in their product name. Small business owner Terry Wilson sells laptop protectors she calls “Tightpods,” and she recently received a cease & desist notice from Apple after filing for a trademark for her product. Dave and Carolee Ellison, owners of a small family business that makes games for arcades, have a similar story. They designed a product they named the Profit Pod, which uses a digital signal to calculate how much money an arcade machine has taken in and how many prizes it has given out. Apple purportedly has threatened to sue the inventors, claiming that there is confusing similarity between Apple’s iPod mark and the Profit Pod and that the products are “likewise related.” Apple has allegedly asked the Ellisons to phase out use of the product.

    Apple spokespersons have declined to comment. Akweli Parker of the Philadelphia Inquirer asks: “will whale-watchers have to refer to ‘the large marine mammals over there to starboard’? Will we have to say we get along with an agreeable person like ‘peas in a seed vessel’?” Who will eventually be winner in this battle over the “pod” remains to be seen.

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