Futuristic digital man, recovering PR guy, magic beansman, aspiring know-it-all. Chief Strategy Officer at Northern Army. More...

How to look like a total dick

It’s not hard, but there’s one surefire way to make yourself or your business look like a complete international asshole – start suing the little guy for using a word that’s already in the dictionary just because you decide you want to use it.

Apparently, Apple, for whom I have extremely ambivalent respect, has taken to issuing cease-and-desist orders to companies who have the audacity to use the word “PodCast,” because it thinks it owns the letters patent to it.

So far, Apple has sent numerous such letters to small entrepreneurs who used the word “pod” in any sense, regardless of whether it had anything to do with MP3s, PodCasting or apples.

iPod has brought Apple from an obscure overpriced graphic designer platform to a household name synonymous with quality, great design and hipness.  The company has fuelled a revolution in how people buy and consume music, and in part, how the average person can broadcast themselves to the world with little more than a webcam. 

Apple isn’t happy with being a pop culture phenomenon.  Their strategy, apparently, is to kill the golden goose and “own” the word “PodCast” so nobody else can use it.  The trouble is, it’s already in the vernacular.  Hell, it’s already in the dictionary as Steve Rubel (ROO-bell) points out. 

Litigation-happy executives are the biggest danger to marketing – especially when it comes to “protecting” irrelevant things like this simply because you can. 

The world is getting smaller with every new blog that launches, and acting like a dick is a sure-fire way to get called out for being a dick.  If Apple doesn’t abandon these strong-arm tactics and consider themselves lucky that they have enough apostles to start a religion, they’re going to lose that veneer they’ve been able to create for themselves as being a creative, fun company, and end up appearing like a monolithic big-business bureaucracy

[Wired via Micropersuasion]


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  1. […] 3. Is “not being a dick” a strategy or tactic? Ryan Anderson at the New PR blog goes off on Apple for its heavy-handed approach in trying to get complete control over the term “podcast.” It’s a great rant and full of colourful language that doesn’t make it’s way into strategic PR recommendations very often. But what I really want to know, Ryan, is if you’d kiss Julie’s mother with that mouth? […]