Frypod from Burger King: eat boiling oil, Apple

It’s not exactly a secret that Apple CEO Steve Jobs isn’t a fan of fast food; variously reported to be a vegetarian, vegan, or pescetarian, he famously has the company’s public events catered with healthy items, including Odwalla drinks, and some time ago publicly called into question the societal implications of fast food. Back in May – right after Jobs became the largest shareholder of Disney – the movie company ended a lucrative, $1 billion deal with McDonald’s that saw Disney receiving gobs of cash in exchange for use of its popular movie and cartoon characters in Happy Meal tie-ins.

In what can only be understood as either a shrewd or exceedingly stupid marketing move, Burger King has opted to try its own tie-in of sorts with another Steve Jobs property: the iPod. Over the last few weeks, the fast food restaurant chain has rolled out the “Frypod,” a french fry container shaped to fit in your car’s cupholder, obviously with naming influence from the most popular digital media player. Take a step back and ask yourself whether this sort of “invention” would even normally be worthy of a name (it used to just be a french fry container), or prominent placement in BK in-store ads, as shown in the picture above. It just seems like Burger King is intentionally trying to see if it can get away with capitalizing on the iPod’s name and success, and how much press they’ll get from it.

Admittedly, this is sort of old news – old enough that Apple’s legal department has surely been checking it out already – but there’s a big question to be answered here: Does Apple’s iPod trademark extend far enough to stop this particular Pod name, or are the fields of digital media players and fast food so different that there’s no legal recourse for Apple? Given Apple’s involvement in global co-branding opportunities with everyone from Coke and Pepsi to Nike, my gut feeling is that things like this can only dilute the iPod brand’s value, and the company will probably go after Burger King if they haven’t already. Surely the thought of bad sentiments with another fast food vendor won’t bring a tear to anyone’s eyes at Apple, least of all Steve Jobs.

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