Apple Registers 'Live Listen' Trademark for Next 'i'Stuff Reveal Event

By Peter Bernstein August 12, 2013

The countdown has begun. No, I am not referring to the fact that retailers have their Halloween paraphernalia front and center at a date that seems to get earlier every year. I’m of course referencing an event some might say rivals Halloween—the now seemingly annual Apple iPhone and other fruity stuff reveal event. This year it will be September 10, so mark your calendars. 

The Web is alive with speculation as to what the new iPhone will look like, how much it will be a leap ahead of its successor, the formal release date for iOS7, the possible launch of Mac OSX, new iPads and some nuggets about Apple intentions in the television and multi-screen markets.  And, after all, why not? Apple aficionados, competitors and the Apple observers love this time of year. Let’s face it, it is fun speculating. In fact, it is almost as much fun as critiquing.  

In the spirit of the season, I am going to engage in a little speculation and a critique. The reason is that Patently Apple has revealed that Apple has file for the trademark “Live Listen” in the run-up to the event with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Source: Patently Apple

As Patently Apple notes, the trademark was filed under Internal Class 009 which covers almost anything to do with devices that access the Internet and/or have to do with listening to or playing content (any type of audio including music, video and audio files), and Class 10, which is associated with hearing aids and assistive listening.

This had led to speculation that maybe a souped-up iPod is in the works. Or, maybe this is about adding some new-fangled immersive capabilities to not just iPods but iPhones and iPads. One suspects the former, since this is not “Stop, Look and Listen.” Although, depending on whether this is live as in “exist” or live as in “real-time” will be telling. 

My critique comes with the use of the word “Listen.” I appreciate the fact that alliteration is memorable when it comes to marketing. I also appreciate that to be careful in this litigious age Apple is asserting a claim of priority based on Trinidad and Tobago application number 46445, filed 02/07/2013. What is also of note is that Patently Apple says that a search of the company website shows no reference to the term Live Listen. 

So what’s my beef? My beef is that language is important. There is a real difference between listening and hearing. One of the challenges in the Internet age, be it in government, commerce or social interactions, is that we all seem to do a lot of listening (and shouting) but not a lot of hearing. 

It is probably a case of wishful thinking, but, for just once, it would be nice if a priority was placed on the capturing and transmission of knowledge and context instead of experiencing things in the moment. Indeed, for companies that have now made “improving the customer experience” job number one, listening is what they do know, but hearing is a skill they best hone if they want to succeed going forward. 

“Live” may be a life-style play by Apple to the mass market. Its pairing with “Listen” leaves open the question as to whether the slogan is aimed at a notion that you will live better if listening is in higher fidelity or whether this is about the closely related notion that real-time can be enriched. Either way, I certainly am going to listen so I can hear what Apple has to say about all of this on September 10.

Edited by Rich Steeves
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