Apple sued over EarPods product name

A new complaint from a hearing-aid maker says Apple's EarPods headphones could confuse customers about its Hearpods product.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Apple's two EarPods variants.
Apple's two EarPods variants. Sarah Tew/CNET

A new lawsuit claims Apple's latest headphones could be confused with a line of hearing aids bearing a similar, trademarked name.

In a complaint filed late last week, Randolph Divisions and Hearpod Inc. said Apple's EarPods headphones infringe on its trademark for "Hearpods." Randolph Divisions filed for the name in February 2005, and ended up using the name in its line of hearing aids.

"Both Plaintiffs' Goods and Defendant's Goods are similar in nature in that, among other things, they are inserted into the ears of their users and are used to facilitate and enhance the transmission of sounds to the users," the complaint argues.

The lawsuit, which was filed in a district court in Hawaii, also says Hearpod Inc. spent more than $625,000 promoting the products bearing that name, and pulled in more than $1.7 million in sales. As a result, the companies want Apple to stop selling EarPods, and pay damages.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the complaint.

Apple introduced EarPods alongside the iPhone 5 and latest batch of iPods at an event in September. It's the latest in a series of headphone designs from the company, though the first to get its own brand name. Apple still sells older versions of its headphones in some of its lower-end products.

This isn't the first time Apple has been sued on an issue related to headphones. A complaint filed last year sought $3 million from Apple for allegedly infringing on a patent related to transferring audio signals. Apple was also sued in early 2006 over the volume levels of its iPods and pack-in headphones, action that resulted in a software-based volume limiter being added to Apple's products.

The complaint was spotted earlier today by The Next Web.