July 12, 2010 You're Either New Or You're Through.

Is the iAd Like Apple's 1984 Ad?

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"1984."

That became shorthand for the most provocatively-produced and placed TV commercial in the 20th century. The company was Apple Computer and the :60 spot which ran in the SuperBowl was called "1984."

Once upon a time just the opposite of the Orwellian nightmare was true. Apple's "1984" represented the brand each of us could call our own.

- "1984" was ours versus Big Brother's.
- "1984" was the way of the future.
- "1984" gave us permission to think different.

(Click above to see the :60.)

These days it seems though that "1984" has begun to act more and more like 1984. Apple has become more Big Brother-like than ever before. They are connoting an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including a form of what Orwell referred to as the "unperson" -- a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory.

In this case Apple is now "unbranding" the hard work established by other companies and rebranding their "borrowed" brand names as if they were their own, without the permission of the brands they are ripping off.

As you will read, how they do it is brilliant.

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With the introduction of the iAd, "1984" is no longer discus-throwing its sledgehammer-like power at the screen of big Brother. It is at small entrepreneurial companies such as Innovate Media who federally trademarked its iAds name two years before.

As background, located in Orange County, CA Innovate Media has created a state of the art Rich Media video ad technology solution for a wide range of top tier companies such as, Experian, Real Networks, LegalZoom, ditech and Canon among others.

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In 2006 the company began working under the iAds name. They federally trademarked the name in two classes and received the trademarks in 2008. However, Apple recently announced their platform for advertising and has called it the iAd. Smack dab in the middle of what Innovate iAds does, "1984" is in direct violation of Innovate's trademarks with no experience at all in selling advertising.

Their CEO, John Cecil, a former Yahoo executive with a Steve Jobs-ian-like vision all his own would like to resolve this trademark infringement quickly - though nobody from Apple has even contacted him. Apple's announcement has been very disruptive to Mr. Cecil's business. They are a small company and have been working hard to successfully make a name for themselves in this space.

None of this is much concern apparently to Apple. Click below to view Steve Jobs' introduction of iAd, which he refers to iAds more than a few times.


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Recently Apple has received a lot of bad press off the "stolen" iphone incident. It has raised some Big Brother concerns with consumers. Click on Jon Stewart below to get the entire story.

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There have been three trademark infringement cases, settled by Apple over the past few years. All cases follow a similar and consistent pattern:

1. Apple music (Beatles) vs. Apple (Apple logo) - settled by apple in 2007 ( they purchased the trademarks)
2. Cisco vs. Apple (iphone) - settled with Cisco in 2007 (co-use of the trademark)
3. Futijsu vs Apple (ipad) - settled in 2010 (purchased the trademark)

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1. Apple music (Beatles) vs. Apple (Apple logo):

In 1978, Apple Corps (The Beatles-founded record label and holding company) filed suit against Apple Computer for trademark infringement. The suit settled in 1981 with an undisclosed amount being paid to Apple Corps, later revealed to be US$80,000. As a condition of the settlement, Apple Computer agreed to stay out of the music business. In 1991, after the introduction of the Apple IIgs, a computer with an Ensoniq music synthesizer chip, which Apple Corps alleged to be in violation, another settlement of around US$26.5 million was reached, and Apple Computer agreed that it would not package, sell or distribute physical music materials.

In September 2003, Apple Computer was sued by Apple Corps again, this time for introducing iTunes and the iPod which Apple Corps believed was a violation of the previous agreement by Apple not to distribute music. The trial opened on March 29, 2006 in the UK. Judgement was issued in favor of Apple Computer on May 8, 2006. "I find no breach of the trademark agreement has been demonstrated," the presiding Justice Mann said.

On February 5, 2007, Apple Inc. and Apple Corps announced a settlement of their trademark dispute under which Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to "Apple" and will license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use. The settlement ends the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies, with each party bearing its own legal costs, and Apple Inc. will continue using its name and logos on iTunes. The settlement includes terms that are confidential.

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2. Cisco vs. Apple (iphone):

On January 10, 2007, Cisco Systems filed a lawsuit against Apple, standing that Apple's iPhone infringed on their iPhone trademark. The two companies were in negotiation to allow Apple the rights to use the name, although the meetings came to standstill when Cisco pushed for the two products to be interoperable. Cisco has alleged that Apple subsequently created a front company to try to acquire the rights another way. Following the public unveiling of the iPhone at the 2007 Macworld Expo, Cisco filed the lawsuit. Apple claimed that there will be no confusion between the two products, and that their iPhone is the first cell phone with such a name, Cisco's "iPhone" being a VoIP phone. On February 21, 2007, Cisco and Apple announced an agreement under which both companies would be allowed to use the iPhone name worldwide.

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3. Futijsu vs Apple (ipad):

Fujitsu did not yet have a registered trademark for "iPad" when it made it's deal with Apple. Fujitsu filed an intent-to-use trademark application with the USPTO back in 2003. Fujitsu actually abandoned the application in April 2009. Then, the application was revived shortly thereafter, and was then published for opposition in September of 2009. Apple thereafter requested successive extensions to oppose the registration, starting in September of 2009 until the application was assigned to Apple by Fujitsu in March 2010. The application still has not matured into a registration, and other owners of iPad registrations (for various other products) may try to challenge Apple. We'll see. No action was filed in court, but it appears as though Apple and Fujitsu had been in discussions for many months, if not longer.

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There is a similar pattern in all these cases where they are infringing on another companies trademark:

1. Apple makes efforts to register trademarks outside of the United States.
2. There is usually a couple of years of push back / denial that the trademark is being infringed upon.
3. Usually there is some sort of settlement / co-use of the mark.

Apple's filing of an iAd trademark in Canada follows the same pattern. They are gunning up to contest this / go after Innovate. If history is any indication, next should come denial.

That said, times have changed. Stay ituned.

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