Earlier today, the public release of iOS 13.2 suggested that Apple might plan to refer to its rumored Tile-like tracking accessory as “AirTags.” We have encountered some strange updates in our investigation into the status of the trademark, which may be a sign that Apple has acquired trademark rights, although we have yet to find evidence of a specific link between Apple and the change.
Citing an international filing in June 2016, a Russian entity called Business Control Intelligence Systems Ltd. filed a trademark application for the AirTag name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in October 2018.
The description of the goods and services involved in the trademark bears a striking resemblance to Apple’s rumored AirTags, for use including:
Radio frequency identification systems, including RFID tags, RFID tag readers and downloadable software for operating RFID readers; RFID tag disk; RFID tag sticker; RFID tag stamp; RFID printing circuit; RFID tag box; RFID ear tag; RFID tag in plastic or glass flask; RFID tag in key form; flexible box, especially suitable for RFID tags with graphic images; RFID reader Blank smart cards with integrated circuit cards; recorded computer software for maintaining release and control records of RFID tags; all of the above are designed to allow users to automatically identify them for keyless access control of interlocking doors and access a variety of services (e.g. public transportation, banking, social activities and various loyalty programs), and are not intended to work with data loggers.
After the initial refusal and repeated exchanges between the applicant’s lawyer and the trademark examiner, the application was approved in August 2019, giving a third party 30 days to challenge the proposed trademark.
On August 28th, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially sent a notice that the trademark application would be filed on September 17th, and the trademark’s lawyer was changed to the Moscow office of Baker and McKenzie, one of the major law firms Apple has worked with in several countries.
A month later, on October 1st, ownership of the trademark application was formally transferred to GPS Avion LLC, a company that was only established in July 2019 and does not appear to exist publicly. GPS Avion was created in Delaware by a trust company, and Apple has created shell companies several times to hide their identities when dealing with intellectual property issues.