updated 03:10 pm EST, Tue March 6, 2012
Cites patents, rumors as reasons for action
A US company, iTV Entertainment, is preemptively pursuing Apple over the iTV name, according to a press release. "iTV Entertainment, LLC announced today that its counsel, Bart S. Fisher, had sent a letter to Apple, Inc. board director, Al Gore, suggesting that a meeting be held 'to see if an amicable and fair transaction arrangement' could be made between the parties with regard to Apple's use of the 'iTV' mark displayed throughout their U.S. Patent No. 2011/0154394 A1 for a product that is rumored to be in development by and being planned for a possible launch in 2012," the company writes. "Apple describes its device as being 'an audio and video entertainment center'."
The patent application in question associates an "iTV" logo with an Apple TV-style product. It is actually a continuation of a patent dating back to September 2006, on the same day Apple previewed a product known as iTV before switching the name to Apple TV. iTV Entertainment's CEO, Patrick Hughes, remarks that his company has had the "iTV Entertainment" trademark since 2001, and that it approached Apple in August 2010 in case the latter was considering relaunching the Apple TV under its original name. Apple was allegedly uninterested in the trademark at the time.
Hughes says that aside from Gore, other people from Apple notified include CEO Tim Cook, fellow board member Andrea Jung, and general counsel Bruce Sewell. An Apple iTV would "cause a great amount of confusion with iTV Entertainment customers," Hughes alleges. He threatens that if Apple does bring out an iTV, his company will file a complaint with the US International Trade Commission.
Apple is widely believed to be working on a full-scale TV set for release sometime in 2012 or 2013. What Apple might call the TV is unclear, since it may not want to repeat the term "Apple TV," and the iTV name is actually used by multiple businesses. Aside from iTV Entertainment, UK broadcaster ITV would likely object to having its identity confused.