Podcast Ready vs. Apple vs. the telephone game

It’s been interesting to watch this unfold over the past few days. There are some folks that have been waiting for the moment to jump on Apple over everything they are doing within the world of digital media, DRM, copyright, trademarks, and so on. This is no exception.

Apple Computer has slapped Podcast Ready with a “cease and desist” letter, claiming that the terms “Podcast Ready” and “myPodder” infringe Apple’s trademarks, and that they cause confusion among consumers. The company has been cracking down on use of the word “pod” by all sorts of parties, even though its trademark is for the word “iPod.”

Podcast Ready CEO Russel Holliman said he’d consider dropping the name myPodder if he had to, but “Podcast Ready”? If that’s infringement, Apple is claiming that it owns the word “podcast.” Sure, the word originated with the word iPod, but most people now see it as a general term for downloadable audio shows that isn’t affiliated with one brand more than another.

Coincidentally, Apple’s letter arrived the day before Podcast Ready unveiled a new version of its software — one that works with the iPod. [wired]

The full version of this letter to Podcast Ready can be found on their site here. The debate is beginning to subside, and the way it has unfolded opens up a couple of observations.

The majority of folks reporting this took this as Apple making the move to trademark the term “podcast” so that no one can use it without their permission. Upon reading the full text of the letting from Apple’s lawyers, this isn’t exactly what this action is intending to do. However, people jumped on it and began bashing the move without getting the full story. In fact, the words “cease and desist” never appear. That didn’t stop the bloggers and podcasters from slamming Apple’s legal action against Podcast Ready.

Podcast411 released a special, soapbox episode[listen] about this issue, and it digs deep into the issue. In fact, Rob did his research, got a copy of the letter, talked to people at the U.S. Patent Office, and reviews how media organizations poorly reported this news. I had a feeling that there was more to this story, and this appears to be the truth. Adam Curry examined the issue as well on a recent episode of the Daily Source Code[dsc#468] and echoes what Rob said on Podcast 411.

Simply put, Apple is defending their right to what they have legally trademarked. “Podcast” is not under threat, and no one can trademark something that exists in the public doman. That’s like someone trying to get a patent on “television” or “radio”, and there is no way that will happen.

There are some folks that take issue with the word “pod” itself, as Apple claims trademark over it. To that, some say the name for the medium should change. I’m sorry, but “netcasting” is the worst thing I have ever heard. It sounds too similar, in meaning, to streaming. Podcasting is what it has come to be. You’ll be hard pressed to change it now.

The last thing I take issue with is the way that so many reporters took up this story without getting all their facts in check. Wired.com posted a follow up to the story above, with a copy of the letter to Podcast Ready. Not once did they mention anything about getting clarification on the matter by actually seeing a copy of the request from Apple’s legal team. There’s poor journalism going on here.

Regardless, Podcast Ready now has more publicity than it could have ever imagined.