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Apple Sued Over ‘EarPod’ Trademark by Hearing Aid Maker HearPod

Apple Sued Over ‘EarPod’ Trademark by Hearing Aid Maker HearPod

Apple’s new EarPods are a fantastic set of buds for the slim $29 asking price, and a great improvement over Apple’s previous earbuds – but not everyone is so thrilled with Apple’s latest listening device. TheNextWeb reports that Randolph Divisions, makers of a digital hearing aid called HearPod, are suing the company over the “EarPod” trademark.

Screen-Shot-2013-04-02-at-12.10.41-PM

An infringement lawsuit has already been filed against Apple in Hawaii District Court. The argument is that HearPod and EarPods simply sound too similar. Notably, the actual products do not look at all similar (comparison image above via CultofMac), and serve very different purposes – and Apple does own the “EarPod” trademark in the U.S. However, Randolph Divisions owns the domain names earpods.com and earpod.com.

It doesn’t sound like a very compelling case to me – looks like just another company trying to squeeze money out of Apple in the hopes that they’d rather settle than fight the matter in court. After all, you aren’t officially one of the “cool kids” unless you’re suing Apple, right? It’s just so “in” right now!

  1. “looks like just another company trying to squeeze money out of Apple” Really? Instead of before, what if Hearpod came out with that name after Apple came out with Earpod? I don’t think that anyone in their right mind would think that Apple wouldn’t be going after Hearpod like white on rice, but the big guy pushing around the little guy is OK with you and not the other way around. Very sad.

    1. The products aren’t even close to similar – and Apple already has the EarPod trademark. If the products looked similar, or were targeted at the same market, I’d agree with you. As it stands, I can’t imagine Apple’s EarPods are causing this company any harm.

      Nobody is going to confuse a medical device with a pair of $30 earbuds.

      1. Are you seriously saying that I could make a “medical device” phone and call it the Eyephone and you don’t think Apple will come after me with a hoard of lawyers?

        1. That’s not a valid comparison – in your case, both devices are phones, and one is clearly intended to mimic the name of another.

          Is this case, one item is a $30 pair of ear buds, and the other is a doctor-prescribed customized medical hearing assistance device – and Apple likely wasn’t aware of that specific brand of hearing aid.

          Not really a fair analogy.

          1. How is it not a fair analogy? In your case you have a medical device that is going into someones ear so that they can hear something and Apple later comes out with a device that goes into someones ear so that they can hear something. Clearly Apple intended to not only mimic the name but also the function to some extent. In my case a doctor prescribed phone customized to the patients needs was invented and sold and it was decided to be called the eyePhone and Apple brings the hammer down on the poor start-up medical device company. It is completely a fair analogy. You just cannot get past your “might makes right” sense of morality to see the truth.

          2. If you’re presuming that I’m blindly biased in Apple’s favor, you’re wrong. I’m far more critical of Apple than most of my colleagues, and have written a number of pieces criticizing them for various things – especially recently.

            I guess this is just a difference of perspective. We can agree to disagree.

      2. Brad Hayes says:

        It doesn’t have the TM. It’s been filed, but they don’t have a TM on EarPods or Apple EarPods. Both TM applications can be opposed and this company has grounds to do so.

        1. Actually, Apple does own the trademarks.

          http://www.trademarkia.com/earpods-85743152.html
          http://www.trademarkia.com/apple-earpods-85728401.html

          See the following two fields.

          Last Applicant/Owner: Apple Inc.
          Class(es) Status: Active

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