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Apple claims iPop is iPod copycat

Orbitcoms threatened with Apple legal action

New Zealand-based software company Orbitcoms has drawn Apple’s ire. Apple is threatening legal action over an Orbitcoms brand-name, which it said is too similar to Apple’s iPod, said Tony Shi, Orbitcoms CEO.

Orbitcoms wants to call a software product it recently developed iPop, but Apple has objected to the idea - twice, said Shi.

The software, which works with Microsoft's Dynamics CRM (customer relationship management), allows users to combine their CRM system with a telephone system, said Shi. Relevant information stored in the CRM system will then pop up on the screen when a customer phones in. The software can also create a phone call record if required, said Shi.

“The name ‘iPop’ comes from the screen ‘pop’ and the ‘i’ refers to information, intelligence and integration,” said Shi, who said he was surprised when Apple objected to the company’s trademark application.

According to Shi, the basis of Apple’s objection is that consumer could confuse ‘iPop’ with ‘iPod’.

Shi later changed the name of the software to Orbitcoms iPop. “I didn’t want to take on Apple head-on for obvious financial reasons,” he said. But Apple objected once again, quoting its original reason for doing so.

“We are still evaluating our options and deciding what to do,” said Shi.

“Clearly, it’s more difficult for a small company like us to defend our position, with our limited, almost non-existent, legal budget compared with Apple’s.

“Apple suggested that they would not object to ‘Orbitcoms Pop’ - very kind of them,” said Shi.

Shi is sure Apple will take the dispute all the way to New Zealand's High Court, he said.

“An initial cost estimation? I’ve been advised it’s in the range of NZ$40,000-$50,000 (£15,500 - £19,500). This is not viable for the product we’re trying to promote. So, we are at the stage of evaluating our options, while other processes are taking their course,” he said. Orbitcoms employs six staff, four of whom are engineers, including one software developer.

Apple declined to comment.

www.computerworld.co.nz

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