The I of the Beholder: Apple’s Quest to Own “I”

By Beth Gerber

June 21, 2011

If a name’s beauty is in the “i-” of the beholder, then to Apple, it’s drop-dead gorgeous and worthy of wooing  – even if means throwing around some hefty corporate weight to win its heart. Or the name in question is in a committed relationship.

No “i-” name is too high in the sky to be pursued. Case in point: iCloud, which has already spawned one lawsuit against Apple for trademark infringement by iCloud Communications. The Phoenix-based VoIP provider alleged that “the goods and services with which Apple intends to use the ‘iCloud’ mark are identical to or closely related to [those offered by iCloud Communications]…since its formation in 2005.”

It also claims that “Apple has a long and well-known history of knowingly and willfully treading on the trademark rights of others.” And indeed, the Big Apple has been as vigilant as a seeing iDog in enforcing its own trademarks and logos, while hungrily eyeing the iCatching names of others.

Take for instance the Cisco fiasco over the iPhone name or the fight with Fujitsu over the right to use iPad. And even though an Australian trademarks tribunal rejected Apple’s bid to own the “i-” prefix last March, the Jobs juggernaut still seems hell-bent on taking a huge bite out of any would-be i(name)Droppers.

With at least 26 i-related trademarks registered and counting, Apple’s perfect iNamestorm doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon. What’s next for Apple? They missed the obvious opportunity with AppleTV, but Steve probably figured it was a bad idea to try to fight Britain’s ITV commercial television network. But will we see iNetwork for home networking, or perhaps iFilm when Apple goes into the movie business? Maybe they should have named iMovie something different, like iEdit.

One day, Apple may buy Adobe (face it, Photoshop freaks are all Apple users anyway), and then we’ll have iPhoto, iPhotoshop, and iPhotoshop Elements. And then maybe Flash will run on the iPhone.

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