Engadget notes that Apple has filed two trademark applications for IPODCAST last week, covering extremely broad ranges of goods and services. Engadget’s negative reaction seems misplaced (and seems to confuse patent concepts with trademark concepts). Apple is seeking exclusive rights to use IPODCAST as a trademark to identify certain goods and services – it is not seeking (by this action) to obtain exclusive rights in either the PODCAST name, or in the underlying technology.
Given the acceptance of PODCAST as a descriptive term (and Apple’s acquiesence in that, evidenced by its own descriptive use of the term), these applications should not be viewed as anything nefarious. And it is not apparent why anyone other than Apple should be allowed to use the term IPODCAST as a trademark.
Dave Winer reminds us that someone did try to obtain exclusive rights in PODCAST as a trademark, filing an application this past February. However, Shae Spencer’s application received a preliminary refusal last week on the grounds that PODCAST is descriptive (and the Trademark Office cites Wikipedia for that point – see below).