updated 02:57 pm EDT, Tue April 2, 2013
Apple owns US trademark on 'EarPod,' plaintiff owns 'HearPod'
A company that makes digital hearing aids with the trademark name "HearPod" is suing Apple over its "EarPods" trademark, claiming infringement. Filed in Hawaii, the "HearPod" trademark was originally issued in 2007, five years before Apple introduced its EarPods headphones. Oddly, Randolph Divisions is suing for infringement rather than claiming any harm from consumer confusion between the two similar-sounding brands. Apple owns the US trademarks for both "EarPods" and "Apple EarPods," but Randolph Divisions owns the "earpods.com" domain name.
The lawsuit is unlikely to go anywhere, since Apple's EarPods are a completely different product with a different look and purpose that consumers would be unlikely to mistake for Randolph's HearPod. The company may be suing defensively in an effort to avoid losing the Earpods.com (and earpod.com) domain name to Apple, as both only point to Randolph's HearPod site at present. Somewhat ironically, the Earpod.com site has a page promoting an "iPod 60-60 Protection Plan" that promotes "hearing protection" by advising people to listen to the iPod at no more than 60 percent of maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes per day, reports TheNextWeb.
Apple itself meets federal Hearing Aid Compatibility guidelines on its current iPhone models and has licensed the "Made for iPhone" branding to certain third-party hearing aids.