Apple wants to trademark "podcast"

Written by Brett Thomas

September 25, 2006 // 5:11 p.m.

Tags: #apple #podcast

Love it or hate it, the Apple iPod has become a culturally significant phenomenon. It has generated a whole slew of accessories, fashion issues, cultural battles, and terminology. Did we say terminology? Yes, as in the derivations of the word "pod" (like "podcast" or "myPodder") - which Apple now wants to call an official trademark.

So what do you do if you're Steve Jobs, and you want to trademark a word after it has already become culturally popular? Easy - you send out "Cease and Desist" letters to sites like Podcast Ready, and call in the legal hounds. Let the lawyers sort it out!

Apple has already been unsuccessful in its attempt to trademark a few words surrounding the iPod, including "ipodcast". So it might be a tough pill to swallow if the company thinks it's going to push "podcast" through instead, which is slightly less specific and a lot more frequently used. Apple's trademark over the name "iPod" is far less questionable, but it just doesn't seem to apply to derivitaves of the brand.

The company is issuing the letter to Podcast Ready the day before that site releases its newest version of the myPodder software, which helps synch your iPod with podcasts from any computer instead of just the one your iTunes is hosted on. Though the CEO of Podcast Ready says that he will drop the "myPodder" name if it is found to be too related to Apple's brand, he chuckles at the thought of his company's name being an infringement.

Given Apple's failure to trademark in the past, he has a right to be skeptical. The last denial was rather firm, with the US Patent and Trademark Office saying in no uncertain terms that this was its FINAL determination on the word ipodcast. If Podcast Ready challenges the Cease and Desist, Apple will need to make a case for the words "myPodder" and "podcast." I wonder if there's a fine for frivolous applications?

Being a part of a podcasting team myself, I am curious to see how far Apple will push this. On one hand, it's good to have control over your product names. On the other paw, though, there is a certain amount of greed when you want to let a term rise to cultural acceptance and then trademark it.

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