Apple Has an ‘iTV’ Naming Problem (UPDATE)

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Although “iTV” seems like an ideal name for Apple’s rumored television, the company may have to pick something else due to trademark troubles.

ITV, a U.K. cable and Internet service provider, has reportedly raised concerns with Apple over the possible iTV nomenclature, the Telegraph reports. Back in 2010, Apple promised that it wouldn’t use the name, but now ITV insiders are worried that Apple’s new CEO, Tim Cook, will renege.

[UPDATE: ITV told The Verge that there has been no recent dialog between the service provider and Apple, and that the story in the Telegraph is “entirely speculative.”]

(MORE: Apple ‘iTV’ Rumors: Cable Companies Getting on Board?)

The name may seem pretty trivial, but Apple’s “i” naming prefix is one of the company’s greatest marketing hooks. It allows Apple to tack on any ordinary word — such as “Pod” or “Pad” — to create a unique, trademarkable name that’s easy to remember and easily associated with the company. Only in this case, ITV is already taken.

Apple has dealt with the naming issue once before. In 2006, the company introduced its television set-top box as iTV, but changed the name to Apple TV when the product launched in 2007. With that name still in use, the company must figure out something different for its television or modify the name of the set-top box, unless it wants to use iTV and deal with the ramifications. My guess is that Apple will use something like “Apple TV Box” to describe its set-top unit, while the television is simply called “Apple TV.”

In the meantime, pity us tech writers, who are totally lost on how to refer to Apple’s next big thing. I’m sticking with the clumsy but unassuming “Apple television” for now.

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