Trademark Filings Seemingly Confirm Apple's Work on Upcoming 'AirPods'

earpods_tableWith it looking more and more like Apple is going to remove the headphone jack on the iPhone 7, we've seen considerable speculation and discussion about the transition to either wired Lightning headphones or Bluetooth options. Looking at the wireless possibilities, the first iPhone 7 headphone jack rumors immediately reminded us of an "AirPods" trademark filing we discovered last October that seemed likely to be linked to Apple, although conclusive proof could not be found at the time.

That AirPods trademark application was filed by a previously unknown company by the name of Entertainment in Flight LLC, which carried many of the hallmarks of being a shell company operated by Apple for the purposes of hiding its true identity. Apple has used such companies on many previous occasions, including for "iPad" and "CarPlay" that were ultimately used in product names and others such as "iWatch" that ended up scrapped in favor of other names.

As the AirPods trademark has continued through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office review process, additional documents have been filed that we believe confirm Apple is behind the filing while providing evidence Apple continues to have interest in protecting the name.

Just this week, the applicant amended its description of the goods to be covered under the AirPods trademark, responding to a January request from the trademark examiner to clarify some of the overly broad terms used in the original description. This week's filing was signed by Jonathan Brown, a "manager" for Entertainment in Flight, and it's the first time we've seen a name associated with the trademark application other than outside attorneys handling the case.

brown_sig_eif_airpods

Jonathan Brown's signature on AirPods trademark case filing

As a matter of fact, Apple employs an attorney by the name of Jonathan Brown in the role of "Senior Standards Counsel." While Brown describes his role as primarily dealing with technical standards organizations and open source software initiatives, he is involved with intellectual property matters and in prior positions at chipmaker Rambus he handled trademark and patent maintenance and litigation.

Given that Jonathan Brown is a fairly common name, we dug a little further to try to determine whether the manager at Entertainment in Flight and the attorney at Apple and Rambus are indeed the same person, and we came across a court filing from a 2010 civil case involving Rambus that includes a pair of Brown's signatures. While there is some variation among those two signatures and the one on the AirPods trademark document, they have enough in common that we believe these Jonathan Browns are the same person and thus Apple is behind the AirPods trademark application.

brown_sigs_rambus

Jonathan Brown's signatures on 2010 Rambus court filing

This week's amendment came one day prior to the six-month deadline for responding to the trademark office's request for clarification, indicating Apple remains interested in protecting the name but suggesting it is interested in stretching out the review process as long as possible with no product yet released.

Trademark protection ultimately requires that a "Statement of Use" be filed to prove the name is actually being used, and lengthening the review process gives the applicant additional time as it continues working on its product. By regulation, a Statement of Use must be filed within six months of the trademark being allowed, although five six-month extensions are permitted.

If Apple is indeed working on an AirPods product, it is likely a set of wireless earphones that would be a natural accessory for the iPhone, Apple Watch, and other devices. Given the cost of wireless earphones, it is likely the iPhone 7 would instead ship with Lightning-enabled wired earphones, with wireless AirPods sold separately. Apple was reportedly looking to launch wireless earphones this fall alongside the iPhone 7, but it's possible that timeline could be pushed back if the accessory is not ready for market.

Related Roundup: AirPods
Buyer's Guide: AirPods (Don't Buy)
Related Forums: iPhone, AirPods

Top Rated Comments

farewelwilliams Avatar
66 months ago
Plot twist: it's a thinner iPod.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Richardgm Avatar
66 months ago
Not gonna lie, that's a clever name.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
garirry Avatar
66 months ago
If it's wireless earbuds that seamlessly connect to your iPhones, then it's my job to yell "**** yeah!".
If it's the same EarPods but with a Lightning connection, then it's my job to yell "**** that".
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
masterhiggins Avatar
66 months ago
Omg who cares? Bring out the new skylake MacBook Pros already, damnit!
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac4Brains Avatar
66 months ago
As a I.T. teck, I often tell people to look at how long an item stays on their desk. The longer it is there the more money you can safely drop into any item. Since the 3.5mm headphone jack is the universal standard for speakers, don’t be to shy to drop good money on to a decent set of speakers and to avoid anything that does not use the 3.5mm plug. Kinda like when I was dumb enuf to get the iSub that used a USB port when I got my G4 iMac. Great sub-woofer but when I got my next iMac (an Intel based iMac) it then refused to work so it became a worthless paperweight. This whole debacle is mostly why the iSub is now dead and no longer available form Apple. The $300 speakers I got to replace that bad decision back in 2006, is still the speakers I am still using today, ten years and three iMacs later.

This will also force the many people that use the 3.5mm connection, that was built in to their cars, to stop using their iPhones for music. As for the idea of using Lighting connectors for headphones, how long until Apple decides to change the connector like they did with the 30 pin connector. This also made my desktop docking station and current shelve stereo connector worthless and that change is why you don’t see non-Apple stereos offering connectors like you did prior to 2011 and the few car makers that offered the 30 pin connector gave up and placed a 3.5mm port in their cars instead.

In the past Apple has done some stupid things, like discontinuing the Newton or the lack of USB ports on the MacBook. I see the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack to be the next big disaster for Apple. Watch closely as the sales of the iPhone7 drops off sharply after a few months when reviews start to show up, as people switch to another smart phone to keep using the overpriced headphones they got several iPhone models ago or to use an iPhone in their cars. Then in a mad scramble, Apple will bring it back to rescue the line with the iPhone7S or 8, but never fully recover from this super blunder.

If Apple does this I will make the switch to a Galaxy phone to avoid being forced to use $75 and up headphones, which will only work in the iPhone7. Even though I am using a $50 Non-Apple set now that blows away the current crappy ones that apple is currently supplying its costumers at $30. Even at $10 I can get better models than the ones Apple supplies, just minus the on-wire-remote. However I can also use my current Non-Apple headphones on my current iMac, MacBookPro, iPad, (or any other device for that matter) and while still using my iPhone for music in my car.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rufuss Sewell Avatar
66 months ago
I never thought I would ditch Apple. I've had 2 of every iPhone. Several MBPs. I bought a G5 in 2005. Several iPods, iPads, Apple TVs, TB Display... everything.

But a phone without a DAC and analog output is worthless.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Pro Display XDR Yella

Apple Working on External Display With Built-In A13 Chip

Friday July 23, 2021 9:37 am PDT by
Apple is developing an external display that includes an A13 chip with Neural Engine, according to a new rumor from 9to5Mac. The A13 chip with Neural Engine would presumably serve as an eGPU, though details are light at this time. Having a CPU/GPU built into the external display could help Macs deliver high-resolution graphics without using all the resources of the computer's internal chip....
maxresdefault

Apple Music to Livestream Premiere of Kanye West's New Album 'Donda' on Thursday

Wednesday July 21, 2021 1:49 am PDT by
Apple Music on Thursday will host a global livestream for the premiere of Kanye West's tenth studio album, titled "Donda." The sold-out event will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, and Apple Music's livestream will start at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The livestream was revealed in a Beats Studio Buds ad that aired during the NBA Finals. The ad features U.S. track...
airpods 3 gizmochina Feature

AirPods 3 Rumored to Launch Alongside iPhone 13 at Expected September Event

Friday July 23, 2021 12:54 am PDT by
The third-generation AirPods will likely launch at the same event revealing Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup, according to a report from DigiTimes, which makes the claim citing sources familiar with the matter. The report as a whole echoes previous reporting that production of the third-generation AirPods will kickstart in August, meaning a launch shortly after can be easily expected. DigiTi...
idos 2 app ios

Apple to Pull 'iDOS 2' DOS Emulator From App Store

Thursday July 22, 2021 3:22 pm PDT by
iDOS 2, an app designed to allow users to play classic DOS games, will soon be pulled from the App Store, the app's creator said today. According to iDOS developer Chaoji Li, he tried to submit an iDOS update with bug fixes to the App Store, but was told that the update was rejected because it violated the 2.5.2 App Store guideline that says apps cannot install or launch executable code.Durin...
iPad mini pro feature

Next iPad Mini Won't Feature Mini-LED Display, Claims Display Analyst

Friday July 23, 2021 8:07 am PDT by
Yesterday, DigiTimes claimed that the upcoming iPad mini will feature a mini-LED display, but now, display analyst Ross Young is going at odds with that report, claiming that while the updated iPad mini continues to be on track for a release this year, it won't feature a mini-LED display. Young says he "confirmed" with Radiant Opto-Electronics, who DigiTimes claims would provide Apple with...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

AirPods Pro Beta Firmware Now Available

Wednesday July 21, 2021 6:50 am PDT by
Upcoming AirPods Pro firmware updates are now available to Apple Developer Program members as beta versions. AirPods Pro firmware beta one features FaceTime Spatial Audio and Ambient Noise Reduction. Custom Transparency mode, including Conversation Boost, was initially expected to be included in the beta but appears to have been delayed for a later version. Apple made the announcement...
iPad mini pro feature

Next-Generation iPad Mini Will Reportedly Feature a Mini-LED Display

Thursday July 22, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple is widely rumored to be planning a new iPad mini with a significant redesign, including a larger 8.5-inch to 9-inch display with slimmer bezels, a Touch ID power button instead of a home button, a USB-C port instead of a Lightning connector, and more. According to a paywalled preview of a DigiTimes report today, the sixth-generation iPad mini will also feature a mini-LED display:BLU...
discount m1 macbook yellow

Deals: Shop Record Low Prices Across Apple's Full MacBook Pro and MacBook Air Lineup (Up to $499 Off)

Friday July 23, 2021 8:23 am PDT by
Apple's MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lineup is seeing all-time low discounts across the board today, including the 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro, 2020 13-inch MacBook Air, and 2020 13-inch MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. 13-Inch M1...
ios wifi settings

Apple Confirms iOS 14.7 Fixes WiFi Bug and Many Other Vulnerabilities

Wednesday July 21, 2021 11:38 am PDT by
Following the release of iPadOS 14.7 this morning, Apple has shared details on the security updates that are included in iOS 14.7, iPadOS 14.7, macOS Big Sur 11.5, watchOS 7.6, and tvOS 14.7, all of which came out this week. Notably, Apple's documentation confirms that the iOS 14.7 and iPadOS 14.7 updates address a WiFi-related vulnerability that could impact iOS devices when joining a...
macOS Big Sur Feature Orange

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.5 With Podcast App Updates and Bug Fixes

Wednesday July 21, 2021 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.5, the fifth major update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November 2020. macOS Big Sur 11.5 comes two months after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.4. The new ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌‌ 11.5 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. macOS Big Sur...