Apple's likely 'AirPods' headphone trademark obscured by shell company

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
New evidence suggests that Apple is once again hiding behind a shell corporation as it seeks ownership of a new trademark --?in this case, for an anticipated product named "AirPods," which could be the name for a new set of Bluetooth wireless earbuds.




Earlier this month, Delaware company Entertainment in Flight, LLC, filed for an amendment to its existing "AirPods" trademark filing. A manager for the company who signed off on the revision was discovered by MacRumors to share the same name as a "Senior Standards Counsel" employee at Apple.

Adding to evidence that Entertainment in Flight manager Jonathan Brown is also an Apple attorney, it was discovered that the signature on the 2016 trademark filing matches closely to one found in 2010 litigation involving Rambus. As revealed on Brown's LinkedIn page, the Apple attorney previously worked as "Senior Litigation Counsel" at Rambus.

The new revision, amending the original application from last year, changed the term "audio components and accessories" to read "cases, charging cases... for use with all of the aforesaid goods." The revisions both widen the scope of the trademark, and make it more specific about what the application covers.



Signature from the Entertainment in Flight trademark revision document



Similar signature from the 2010 Rambus litigation document


Given the similarity between the two signatures, and Brown still being in the employ of Apple, a connection between Entertainment in Flight and Apple appears to have been drawn -- signaling that the "AirPods" name could be Apple's property.

Of course, Apple's tactic of using a shell company like Entertainment in Flight to hide product intentions isn't new.

For example, in 2009, Apple registered the acronym IPAD under British dummy corporation "IP Application Development" (IPAD Ltd). And last year AppleInsider found strong connections between Apple and a mysterious market research company called SixtyEight Research, believed to be acting as a cover for development of a rumored Apple electric vehicle.

Entertainment in Flight, LLC, filed the trademark application for the term "AIRPODS," and several variant spellings in Jamaica in May of 2015. The company designated the mark under International Trademark Class 9, a category spanning a wide range of electronic goods. July's terminology revision does not alter the class of the trademark application.

Rumors have circulated since the patent application that the brand "AirPods" will apply to new Apple-developed Bluetooth headphones. They are said to charge wirelessly, and not have a cable connecting the earpieces as is common with most Bluetooth earbuds -- for example, the existing wireless Powerbeats2 Bluetooth earbuds have a connecting wire between the earpieces.

The speculated AirPods would logically debut in the fall, alongside the reveal of the company's next-generation "iPhone 7," which is said to omit a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. Wired Lightning EarPods are expected to ship with any new iPhone lacking a headphone jack, so wireless "AirPods" would likely be an optional accessory.

The trademark application does not absolutely confirm that Apple has a product that it intends to release. Trademark applications require use of a term before six months have elapsed after the initial award, but this window can be extended for an additional two and a half years with repeated extension requests.

Like patents, Apple files for a great deal of trademarks publicly that never see release. Similarly, the company also files for similar names to released products for enhanced legal protection. At this time, there do not appear to be any more trademarks or patent applications ascribed to Entertainment in Flight, LLC.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    irelandireland Posts: 17,779member
    Only a Trademark.
  • Reply 2 of 19
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,984member
    Why is this being presented as implied skullduggery?
  • Reply 3 of 19
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member
    lkrupp said:
    Why is this being presented as implied skullduggery?
    Because "AirPods" wasn't trademarked directly by Apple maybe?
    (Just a wild guess.)
  • Reply 4 of 19
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,424administrator
    lkrupp said:
    Why is this being presented as implied skullduggery?
    It isn't.
  • Reply 5 of 19
    This was known a while ago wasn't it? I remember I held off for a while, but I've currently got a really nice set of Sony Bluetooth headphones. (No point paying for the Beats name. The devices are pretty dumb overall.) Though I think if the AirPods will stay in my ears they'd be really good for out at the gym, or in the summer when a good pair of cans can be uncomfortable. (In the winter they're great and double as ear muffs!)
  • Reply 6 of 19
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    lkrupp said:
    Why is this being presented as implied skullduggery?
    Was it?

    Apple does this all the time, and I'm sure they're not alone.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    No wire between the buds and wireless recharging both sound nice. Might make me appreciate wireless finally. Hopefully the sound quality can at least match a relatively inexpensive set of klipsch ear buds. On that note I hope they fit as well as a relatively inexpensive set klipsch earbuds as well. For and sound isolation have always been my complaint against Apple buds.  I'd pay a premium for a successful formula for sure. 
  • Reply 8 of 19
    IP Application Development ---IPAD. 
    Entertainment in Flight --- Ear Fones
  • Reply 9 of 19
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,072member
    Bye bye wired headphones and the headphone jack.  I am so sick of my Apple headphone wire getting tangled on things while I work.  This should be great.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 1,157member
    It's Apples VR Primesense stuffs. 
  • Reply 11 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    No wire between the buds and wireless recharging both sound nice. Might make me appreciate wireless finally. Hopefully the sound quality can at least match a relatively inexpensive set of klipsch ear buds. On that note I hope they fit as well as a relatively inexpensive set klipsch earbuds as well. For and sound isolation have always been my complaint against Apple buds.  I'd pay a premium for a successful formula for sure. 
    With BT 5.0 coming and Apple designing both ends Iphone and the buds, I'm guessing they can make it work.
    edited July 2016
  • Reply 12 of 19
    xmhillxxmhillx Posts: 112member
    Yes, I say let's get rid of the 3.5mm jack. It'll be inconvenient for some, like all technology jumps. But, sorry for you, get an adapter. Maybe new headphones even. It reminds of that time I had to use a cassette adapter to listen to music on my iPhone because my truck had a cassette player but no auxiliary jack, let alone bluetooth. But they sold cassettes with a cable running out one end to connect via 3.5mm jack to your phone. Imagine industry stayed with cassette players because of the inconvenience placed on those few consumers from the switch to auxiliary ports and bluetooth stereos in cars. Fuck that. Those people, like I did for a couple years, need to buy an adapter.

    I don't want to hinder technological progress for the sake of catering to the potential inconvenience of the few. Is that what you're saying when you want to keep the 3.5mm because it'll be a pain in the ass to switch? "No, don't switch! None of my headphones will work. None of my speakers will work. I'll have to get a stupid adapter! And I'll lose it because I just lose things easily! Etc etc etc."

    Have some vision. Like others have said, Bluetooth technology is always evolving and the new Bluetooth 5.0 is coming fall of 2016. Many that have complaints about inferior sound quality have a legitimate concern; but BT 5.0 solves this. It'll have more data throughput, twice as fast, more power efficient, and also gets an increase in data broadcasting capacity by 800%. THEN you have evolving technology in wireless charging; where before the efficiency was dog shit, it required specific alignment (no drop-and-play), and was much slower. In other words, the technology exists but it's significantly inferior to existing wired technology while offering no significant benefits to wired charging. It's a novelty with no benefits. In short, if it's worse in every way than current technology, then why use it? There are patents where devices can charge wirelessly from a distance (5 - 10 feet) within range of a hub that's broadcasting the wireless charging through the air, rather than having to be physically touching a charing pad like current "wireless charging." Essentially your phone could be charging constantly as you walk from room to room, office to office, or sitting at your desk as long as you're in range of the hub. Then, we have battery improvements and chip efficiency improvements that are expected every year.

    So you marry all those things
    1) Bluetooth 5.0
    2) Wireless charging from a distance
    3) Battery/processor efficiency improvements 

    .... and you get a scenario where you don't have issues with having one single port (e.g. plug in headphones and charger simultaneously, inferior audio quality, big battery drain, constant worry about having to recharge devices including the phone and wireless earphones).

    My bet is that Apple will get rid of the 3.5mm jack, ship lightning EarPhones, increase battery size, and increase processing efficiency to the point that regular use will have an insignificant impact on overall battery life congruent with the average use today. In other words, battery life will remain the same (even though lightning earphones use more energy and you can't charge simultaneously).

    Apple will take that gamble to prepare for 2017, which by that time BT 5.0 is well established and true wireless charging (from a distance) is ready, and the industry is more accustomed to the No-3.5mm-Jack-Era.

    But it's just a vision. I guess they could stick with 3.5mm; less work less uncertainty more safe.


    edited July 2016 nolamacguy
  • Reply 13 of 19
    ApplemosApplemos Posts: 15member
    xmhillx said:
    My bet is that Apple will get rid of the 3.5mm jack, ship lightning EarPhones, increase battery size, and increase processing efficiency to the point that regular use will have an insignificant impact on overall battery life congruent with the average use today. In other words, battery life will remain the same (even though lightning earphones use more energy and you can't charge simultaneously).

    Apple will take that gamble to prepare for 2017, which by that time BT 5.0 is well established and true wireless charging (from a distance) is ready, and the industry is more accustomed to the No-3.5mm-Jack-Era.

    Why would they release an inconvenience one year prior to the 'real' leap forward in technology? Just to prepp people into accepting the idea of no 3,5mm jack?

    Why would they release an inconvenience one year prior to the 'real' leap forward in technology? Just to prepp people into accepting the idea of no 3,5mm jack?
    edited July 2016
  • Reply 14 of 19
    xmhillxxmhillx Posts: 112member
    Applemos said:
    xmhillx said:
    My bet is that Apple will get rid of the 3.5mm jack, ship lightning EarPhones, increase battery size, and increase processing efficiency to the point that regular use will have an insignificant impact on overall battery life congruent with the average use today. In other words, battery life will remain the same (even though lightning earphones use more energy and you can't charge simultaneously).

    Apple will take that gamble to prepare for 2017, which by that time BT 5.0 is well established and true wireless charging (from a distance) is ready, and the industry is more accustomed to the No-3.5mm-Jack-Era.

    Why would they release an inconvenience one year prior to the 'real' leap forward in technology? Just to prepp people into accepting the idea of no 3,5mm jack?

    Why would they release an inconvenience one year prior to the 'real' leap forward in technology? Just to prepp people into accepting the idea of no 3,5mm jack?
    Yes, that's what I think. It's not "just" to prep people to accept the idea, because that would imply that Apple would be burdening you with drawbacks "just" for the sake of getting you used it the idea.

    I think the A10 chip is going to be so power efficient, and the battery is going to be about 15% bigger, that Apple will thinks it's good enough to hold ppl over until next year; that you won't really need to charge and have earphones plugged in, or you won't have to worry about more power being drawn from lightning earphones.

    So by next year, lightning earphones and headphones have saturated the market so much that ppl are used to the idea and Apple won't need to worry about quelling criticism at that point.

    Look at that new Android phone that just came out with no 3.5mm jack, the M something? Only a single USB-C port. Phones are already being rushed out so they can claim they were the first to market. The industry is heading that way, it's more than just a rumor and it's not just Apple that's doing it. 
  • Reply 15 of 19
    xmhillx said:
    Applemos said:
    Why would they release an inconvenience one year prior to the 'real' leap forward in technology? Just to prepp people into accepting the idea of no 3,5mm jack?
    Yes, that's what I think. It's not "just" to prep people to accept the idea, because that would imply that Apple would be burdening you with drawbacks "just" for the sake of getting you used it the idea.

    I think the A10 chip is going to be so power efficient, and the battery is going to be about 15% bigger, that Apple will thinks it's good enough to hold ppl over until next year; that you won't really need to charge and have earphones plugged in, or you won't have to worry about more power being drawn from lightning earphones.

    So by next year, lightning earphones and headphones have saturated the market so much that ppl are used to the idea and Apple won't need to worry about quelling criticism at that point.

    Look at that new Android phone that just came out with no 3.5mm jack, the M something? Only a single USB-C port. Phones are already being rushed out so they can claim they were the first to market. The industry is heading that way, it's more than just a rumor and it's not just Apple that's doing it. 
    Back in the day I might have disagreed with you here. But what you say actually makes sense. I'm not one of those people wo believes that Steve Jobs was all-knowing and perfect. But under his leadership these type of questionable business-decisions was held off in order to facilitate real change when they were due.

    Apple has a long history of creating inconvenience for their customers who adopt their technology first, but from a longer perspective they were forward-thinking. I do agree with you that the change is coming, no matter if it creates inconvenience or not.

    The rumors now are a bit scattered, but some people are speculating that it might just be a pair of earpods with a lightning-connector. Or that they'll ship it with an adapter. I'm just asking if they are doing this one year too early, before they really introduce the game-changing technology that goes along with this change?

    I'm thinking, just like you, BT-chordless airpods, and wireless charging. But that might be an entire year away.

    Of course there's a LOT to concider in this decision. Not the least that 2/3 of the revenue of the company comes from the iPhone-production. They NEED to churn out new models each year to keep the investors happy. This is where I see a big difference in how the company is run, now compared to then. It used to be that they released new products when they really believed that they would improve peoples lives, not the shareholders wallets. A big departure...

    I guess that's why we've seen some less than stellar products from Apple over the last few years.
    xmhillx
  • Reply 16 of 19
    xmhillxxmhillx Posts: 112member
    Applemos said:
    xmhillx said:
    Yes, that's what I think. It's not "just" to prep people to accept the idea, because that would imply that Apple would be burdening you with drawbacks "just" for the sake of getting you used it the idea.

    I think the A10 chip is going to be so power efficient, and the battery is going to be about 15% bigger, that Apple will thinks it's good enough to hold ppl over until next year; that you won't really need to charge and have earphones plugged in, or you won't have to worry about more power being drawn from lightning earphones.

    So by next year, lightning earphones and headphones have saturated the market so much that ppl are used to the idea and Apple won't need to worry about quelling criticism at that point.

    Look at that new Android phone that just came out with no 3.5mm jack, the M something? Only a single USB-C port. Phones are already being rushed out so they can claim they were the first to market. The industry is heading that way, it's more than just a rumor and it's not just Apple that's doing it. 
    Back in the day I might have disagreed with you here. But what you say actually makes sense. I'm not one of those people wo believes that Steve Jobs was all-knowing and perfect. But under his leadership these type of questionable business-decisions was held off in order to facilitate real change when they were due.

    Apple has a long history of creating inconvenience for their customers who adopt their technology first, but from a longer perspective they were forward-thinking. I do agree with you that the change is coming, no matter if it creates inconvenience or not.

    The rumors now are a bit scattered, but some people are speculating that it might just be a pair of earpods with a lightning-connector. Or that they'll ship it with an adapter. I'm just asking if they are doing this one year too early, before they really introduce the game-changing technology that goes along with this change?

    I'm thinking, just like you, BT-chordless airpods, and wireless charging. But that might be an entire year away.

    Of course there's a LOT to concider in this decision. Not the least that 2/3 of the revenue of the company comes from the iPhone-production. They NEED to churn out new models each year to keep the investors happy. This is where I see a big difference in how the company is run, now compared to then. It used to be that they released new products when they really believed that they would improve peoples lives, not the shareholders wallets. A big departure...

    I guess that's why we've seen some less than stellar products from Apple over the last few years.
    Agreed. Apple could probably wait a year to ditch the 3.5mm port. But conversely, removing the port could be a differentiating factor from last year's model so they could claim that difference to satisfy investors' demand for new models yearly like you said. 

    I'd be happy if they waited a year and hit a triple home run with removing the port, distance wireless charging, and Bluetooth 5.0 built in to both the phone and earphones. I guess we'll see in September, right. 
  • Reply 17 of 19
    xmhillx said:
    Applemos said:
    Back in the day I might have disagreed with you here. But what you say actually makes sense. I'm not one of those people wo believes that Steve Jobs was all-knowing and perfect. But under his leadership these type of questionable business-decisions was held off in order to facilitate real change when they were due.

    Apple has a long history of creating inconvenience for their customers who adopt their technology first, but from a longer perspective they were forward-thinking. I do agree with you that the change is coming, no matter if it creates inconvenience or not.

    The rumors now are a bit scattered, but some people are speculating that it might just be a pair of earpods with a lightning-connector. Or that they'll ship it with an adapter. I'm just asking if they are doing this one year too early, before they really introduce the game-changing technology that goes along with this change?

    I'm thinking, just like you, BT-chordless airpods, and wireless charging. But that might be an entire year away.

    Of course there's a LOT to concider in this decision. Not the least that 2/3 of the revenue of the company comes from the iPhone-production. They NEED to churn out new models each year to keep the investors happy. This is where I see a big difference in how the company is run, now compared to then. It used to be that they released new products when they really believed that they would improve peoples lives, not the shareholders wallets. A big departure...

    I guess that's why we've seen some less than stellar products from Apple over the last few years.
    Agreed. Apple could probably wait a year to ditch the 3.5mm port. But conversely, removing the port could be a differentiating factor from last year's model so they could claim that difference to satisfy investors' demand for new models yearly like you said. 

    I'd be happy if they waited a year and hit a triple home run with removing the port, distance wireless charging, and Bluetooth 5.0 built in to both the phone and earphones. I guess we'll see in September, right. 
    According to all the recent leaks it seems more or less set in stone that the 3,5mm jack is gone from now on. And yes, as you say, that could be argued to be one of these years USPs, but I'm not entirely sure that it is a selling proposition to begin with... The neverending quest for making the thinnest phone on the market has basically started to become laughable when there's a camera-bulge the size of a smaller mountain on the top of the phone.

    The ONLY good thing that could come from ditching the port this year would be to make it water-resistant.

    But yeah, that's my two cent, and we'll see in September :)
    xmhillx
  • Reply 18 of 19
    xmhillxxmhillx Posts: 112member
    Applemos said:
    xmhillx said:
    Agreed. Apple could probably wait a year to ditch the 3.5mm port. But conversely, removing the port could be a differentiating factor from last year's model so they could claim that difference to satisfy investors' demand for new models yearly like you said. 

    I'd be happy if they waited a year and hit a triple home run with removing the port, distance wireless charging, and Bluetooth 5.0 built in to both the phone and earphones. I guess we'll see in September, right. 
    According to all the recent leaks it seems more or less set in stone that the 3,5mm jack is gone from now on. And yes, as you say, that could be argued to be one of these years USPs, but I'm not entirely sure that it is a selling proposition to begin with... The neverending quest for making the thinnest phone on the market has basically started to become laughable when there's a camera-bulge the size of a smaller mountain on the top of the phone.

    The ONLY good thing that could come from ditching the port this year would be to make it water-resistant.

    But yeah, that's my two cent, and we'll see in September :)
    Yes. That's a good point. Camera bulges are so ugly. I'd rather have the thicker phone so the camer is flush, and fill that space with a bigger battery, until cameras can get thinner. Yup we'll se in September!!
  • Reply 19 of 19
    ApplemosApplemos Posts: 15member
    xmhillx said:
    Applemos said:
    According to all the recent leaks it seems more or less set in stone that the 3,5mm jack is gone from now on. And yes, as you say, that could be argued to be one of these years USPs, but I'm not entirely sure that it is a selling proposition to begin with... The neverending quest for making the thinnest phone on the market has basically started to become laughable when there's a camera-bulge the size of a smaller mountain on the top of the phone.

    The ONLY good thing that could come from ditching the port this year would be to make it water-resistant.

    But yeah, that's my two cent, and we'll see in September :)
    Yes. That's a good point. Camera bulges are so ugly. I'd rather have the thicker phone so the camer is flush, and fill that space with a bigger battery, until cameras can get thinner. Yup we'll se in September!!
    Is it just me, or is there somewhat of an anticlimax when you find someone to agree with on a forum?! ;)
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