Trademark Super-Bully Apple Blatantly Infringes On Headphone Company's Trademarks
from the live-by-trademark-die-by-trademark dept
It’s not terribly often we spend the time to write about valid trademark complaints in these here Techdirt pages, but I do think there are times when it makes sense to do so. One of those times is when a company that does everything in its power to be as super-trademark-bullying as possible just flagrantly infringes someone else’s trademark as though it were the most natural thing in the world to do.
So let’s set this up. Now, I probably don’t need to explain to the average Techdirt reader just how trademark-a-licious Apple has always been, but in case I’m wrong about that, it trademarked the interior design of its retail stores, it has long-insisted it is the only one that can use an apple in its logo, it argued that it owned the trademark rights for the generic term “app store,” and it even went ahead and threatened a school because it used the forbidden fruit in its logo. In other words, Apple is as trademark-y as it gets.
Except when it comes to headphones it wants to market, in which case someone else’s valid trademark can just fuck right off.
Direct Sound Headphones, LLC, of a Fenton, Missouri has sued Apple for Trademark Infringement over the term “Ear Pods”
Plaintiff, (“Direct Sound” or “Plaintiff”) sued Apple for “violations arising under the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. §1051, et seq., (the “Lanham Act”) and for common law trademark infringement and unfair competition under the laws of the State of Missouri, “based on Direct Sound’s ownership of the trademarks “E.A.R.PODS” and “e.a.r.Pods”; Direct Sound’s use of the trademarks “E.A.R.PODS” and “e.a.r.Pods” in manufacturing and selling audio headphones; Apple’s subsequent, improper, and infringing use of “EarPods” to sell goods including audio headphones; and Apple’s continued improper use of “EarPods” despite Apple’s knowledge of Direct Sound’s prior use and ownership”.
Seems pretty clear cut to me. EarPods was a barely-variant version of a trademark registered by another company, the use of which could have been found with a simple google search, nevermind any actual investigation into the prior use of the term. And, yes, having yet another product in the tech world out there with the use of “pods” in it is as stale as cheap beer that’s been sitting in sunlight for the better part of a day, but that isn’t really the point. “Ear Pods” works as a trademark and Apple disregarded it and marketed its own product with the term.
And this isn’t even the first go around with Apple’s product’s name.
Back in September 2012, we wrote a story about Apple failing to secure the domain names EarPod.com and/or EarPods.com before announcing its Ear Pod product, writing in part:
“The domain name Earpod.com has been registered since 2008 and is being forwarded to a hearing clinic site at myhearpod.com.
The company that owns the domain name earpod.com owns a trademark on the term “hearpod” and maybe in a position to object to Apple’s trademark or sued Apple for infringing on its mark especially since the own Earpod.com.
Live by the trademark, die by the trademark, sirs. You can’t on one side be the bully and then cry victim.