When you have a few hundred million in walking around money and are worth more than any company on the planet, you become a magnet for lawsuits. That’s the lesson Apple is learning as the iPhone maker fields increasing numbers of trademark infringement legal cases.
The latest: a hearing aid maker claims Apple’s EarPods sounds just too much like its HearPod. Randolph Divisions filed the lawsuit against Apple in Hawaii District Court. According to the company, it registered the ‘HearPod’ trademark in 2007, years before the smartphone maker unveiled in 2012 its EarPods for the iPhone 5. Win or lose, at least Apple’s legal team gets a trip to Honolulu to argue the case…
The trademark infringement lawsuit is just the latest for Apple. The company recently was turned down by the U.S., which said the iPad mini was not significantly different than the iPad to warrant a trademark. Other trademark cases involved Siri in China and the iPhone moniker in both Mexico and Brazil.
Along with the potential trademark issue, Randolph Divisions also owns the Earpod.com domain.
That domain sends visitors to myhearpod.com, a landing page for the hearing aid firm. Although, as The Next Web points out, headphones aren’t usually confused with hearing aids. Additionally, the owner of the domain earpods.com is represented by the domain broker DNSR.
“The current owner ofEarPods.com would prefer that the name and contact information be kept private,” according to the DNSR website.
However, in September 2012, a DNSR rep reportedly told Business Insider that the domain’s owner fears Apple might ask the Internet governing body ICANN for help obtaining the web address.
The iPad maker has used this tactic in the past to obtain domains, such as iPhone5.com and one sounding very close to AppleStore.com. Apple’s case against EarPods.com would be stronger if it held the trademark. The domain could fetch up to $2 million, according to the report.
According to a Whois search, Apple is the registered owner of theearpod.com, an awkward-sounding domain created in 2011 and updated on November 5, 2012, likely the time Apple purchased the web address.