The Devil's Advocate - Apple Files for Trademarks on iWork, iWrite, ProBand, and Pods [TMO Scoop, UPDATED]
by - August 17th, 2004

Apple has been quite busy of late with its patent and trademark applications. Coming to light today through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are a slew of new trademark applications, three of which are particularly interesting.

[Author's Addendum: You can also read more about iWrite, another mark filed by Apple, in a new article at The Mac Observer.]

ProBand and iWork are described as "Computer Software" types of goods/services. For both iWork and ProBand marks, Apple filed its intention to use the marks and has foreign filing priority dates of February 9, 2004. Interestingly, these applications, originally, were filed in Singapore. Apple may be filing there as a means of keeping their filings a bit more quiet.

ZeroConf is described as:

Computer hardware; computer software; computer operating system software; computer utility software; computer software for use in developing other computer software; Computer software for the automatic configuration of a computer network and computer peripherals and devices

POD is described as:

portable and handheld digital electronic devices for recording, organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing audio files, and peripherals devices for use therewith; computer software for use in organizing, transmitting, manipulating, and reviewing audio files on portable and handheld digital electronic devices [emphasis added].

All the above trademarks were filed in international class 9, which is known as the "Electrical and Scientific Apparatus" class.

iWork, ProBand, and Pods, oh my!

Well all that was a mouthful. There will likely be some speculation as to what these filings signify. It's a pretty decent bet that some new software is coming. Perhaps the most significant are iWork and ProBand.

ProBand, likely, is a more professional version of Apple's GarageBand (much like Final Cut Pro is a more professional version of iMovie).

More interestingly, what is iWork? It could be a simple rebranding of AppleWorks, or it could also be a new Apple office suite to compete with Microsoft Office. Even if iWork is merely a rebranding of AppleWorks, would the "i" prefix predict that we can expect a ProWork version at some point? It's not clear.

Then we have Searchlight and ZeroConf. I suspect Searchlight has something to do with Apple's searching system in its next release of the operating system, Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger." No biggie there; and ZeroConf sounds like another name for the zero-configuration networking protocol formerly known as Rendezvous (first reported by AppleInsider). Apple is apparently changing Rendezvous' name to either OpenTalk or ZeroConf. Or maybe ZeroConf and OpenTalk will represent different aspects of Rendezvous.

Finally in this Apple trademark-filing mania, we have an application for the POD mark. Here, likely, all Apple is doing is trying to prevent competitors from using other variations of "Pod." So this would prevent knockoff artists from using names like ePod or oPod. However, what is interesting about the Pod trademark filing is that it includes "transmitting" and "manipulating" as part of the description of the product.

Does this guarantee that the next release of the iPod will have the ability to transmit and edit audio? There are no guarantees, but recording and transmitting audio are probably among the most popularly requested add-ons features for the iPod (although I'm personally sorely missing an AM/FM radio on my iPod).

It's not clear what are Apple's plans with regard to any of the above. Although questions regarding the trademarks were put to them --surprise, surprise -- Apple has so far declinded to comment (the company's official policy is to not comment on unannounced products).

Well I don't fault Apple for not wanting to comment on its upcoming products, but I'll take the company's lack of response as a positive sign that they have something good to hide. I just hope it finally includes an AM/FM radio.