Apple's lawyers are apparently at it again as iPod enthusiast site iPod Garage has announced that it will "voluntarily" change its name to iProng next week. Publisher and founder Bill Palmer maintains that iPod Garage wasn't his first choice and that he settled on it "at the last minute while I was in the shower" after a squatter took his first choice, "iPodLand."
When I asked him if the change to iProng was prompted by a request from Apple legal, he said:
I've come to realize that as long as we were called iPod Garage, a rather large segment of the user base (and of the general public) was never going to see us as anything more than Apple fanboys or cheerleaders, no matter how sophisticated our content might be. We've worn that particular set of shackles for long enough. Now we want to take our shot at the mainstream. There are fifty million iPod users out there, and we want all of them.
Pardon my cynicism here but the change appears to be the result of Apple's well-known legal strategy of asking anyone with the word "iPod" in their domain name to change it. iPod Garage, er iProng, is another in a long string of iPod-related entities to remove the word "iPod" from their name following a number of name changes on the part of iPod accessory makers over the past year.
In July 2005 iPodLounge changed their name to iLounge. According to a post by publisher Dennis Lloyd they changed their name because they "believe that the next stage of this phenomenon will be bigger than any one product Apple may produce." Hmm...
In September 2005 Wired reported that Apple has sent legal notices to accessory vendors Everythingipod.co.uk and iPodLife.co.uk demanding that they stop using the word "iPod" in their names and URLs. It has also been reported that Apple also threatened legal action against iPod retailer iPod Essentials who changed their name to MP3 Essentials.
Apple's trademarks and copyrights guidelines regarding domain names explicitly states that "You may not use an identical or virtually identical Apple trademark as a second level domain name." So it would appear that , despite what the sites say, the latest round of name changes is a result of Apple's legal department.