Frypod from Burger King: eat boiling oil, Apple

Frypod from Burger King: eat boiling oil, Apple 1

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.

  1. Well of course they CAN sue them. They’ve proven that they can sue anybody who dares use the apparently new term “pod” for any use, regardless of when they started using it. It’s only a matter of time before they go after those thieving veggie farmers and their so-called pea “pods”.

  2. Normally I would think oh, everyone knows that that has nothing to do with Apple’s iPod. But. One day my dad saw this little radio that had a pod like name, and he said “Does this have anything to do with Apple?” So I can see Apple’s point of view that people might confuse the electronic items, and that this “FryPod” might be an Apple endorsed item.

  3. The only thing Apple could feasibly sue for is appropriation – that is, the unauthorized use of one’s image for profit, but it is highly unlikely that Apple would win because they cannot possibly prove that the sale of BK’s “Frypod” poses a threat to the iPod market.

    A court would also likely deem the “frypod” name a parody or satire – both of which are vigorously protected by the Supreme Court. Likewise, the fact that Steve Jobs has such a hatred for fast food could potentially convince a court to consider the “frypod” moniker a form of political speech, in which case BK would be protected for stimulating “robust political debate” (per the U.S. Supreme Court).

    If anything, the companies will likely settle out of court to avoid the costs associated with the suit though.

  4. Jeremy sure has a bent on BK! Did they spit in your food?!

    The marketing person is genius for this. Any company that can make Apple mad at them is gonna make some press.

    It’s a fry holder for god sakes. Any moron who thinks it has anything to do with Apple, or an Apple product… comes with a free ipod or itunes song, deserves to have the burning oil the fries were cooked in, splashed in their face.

    Don’t be such a fryerhater… Fries are good! They make me chubby! My wife likes chub!

  5. Mike: I would disagree with just about every part of your analysis.

    Brent: Actually, I prefer BK to McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and virtually all* of the other fast food restaurants out there. (*=There are a couple of regional exceptions.) My personal tastes don’t matter, though – this was worthy of a story regardless of who did it.

  6. Apple would do well to just ignore this attempt at humor/marketing. Any legal action from a cease and desist standpoint would only give BK more of the attention it is after. I’m certain they expect Apple to sue.

  7. Why should Apple and Burker King even bother with a lawsuit. All it will do is put money in the pockets of lawyers. The court fees will trickle down to the consumer. Besides, Burger King has the better agent to start. Next Question!

  8. Burger King is well known among vegetarians for being the only major burger chain to carry veggie burgers. Their fries are also vegan, unlike McDonald’s “beef flavored” fries.

    I don’t think this is any different from Taco Bell calling their quesadillas “hot new handhelds”. 😛

  9. “A court would also likely deem the “frypod” name a parody or satire”
    Its hardly parody or satire if theyre using i to sell a product. 😛

  10. In terms of legality, I think it would be stupid of Apple to go after this for the reasons mentioned above. In terms of what I think about the name of the product itself…sure, it’s stupid, but BK’s advertising has been very tongue-in-cheek the past few years. They know that fries have nothing to do with the iPod; they’re just putting the name out there for the hell of it. It’s catchy and kind of funny.

  11. Having worked in marketing for a while now I absolutely love to see big companies bump around like this. BK did a cost benefit analsys on using a rip off of the iPod name and decided the name, resulting press, and court costs would eventually be a payoff for them so they blatantly ‘stole some of of Steve Job’s fries’. Sure there will be some arguement over the action and Jobs will slap them on the hand in the action but they still got the fries and are laughing about it. You can’t not love that.

  12. “Any moron who thinks it has anything to do with Apple, or an Apple product… comes with a free ipod or itunes song deserves to have the burning oil the fries were cooked in, splashed in their face.”

    Third degree burns for the majority of America right there…

  13. Lets get this straight. They put the fries in a special container designed to fit in your cars cup holder. Why the hell dont they just use a freakin paper cup!?!

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