The latest off-the-cuff email from Steve Jobs has injected another soupçon of silliness into the ongoing kerfuffle over the iPad's name - and in doing so, it has further established the CEO of the Decade's reputation for imperious disregard for the developers who have contributed mightily to his company's success.
Jobs' most recent dismissive missive came in response to an email sent by the developer of iPad apps formerly named journalPad and journalPad: Bible Study Editon, but now - following the dictates of Apple's App Store Police - renamed journal.APP and bibleStudy.APP.
The dev, Chris Ostmo, tells 9to5Mac that he sent an email to Jobs noting that his company had spent "tens of thousands of dollars" marketing its apps and that changing the apps' names would require him "to spend tens of thousands of dollars more to market new names."
This sort of sudden policy change is the kind of thing that is destroying Apple's relationship with developers. Small companies like ours cannot continue to take financial blows like that and justify remaining on the iPhone/Pod/Pad platform.
Jobs's response: "Its just common sense to not use another company's trademarks in your app name."
In addition to the lack of an apostrophe in "Its" and the inelegant splitting of an infinitive, there's another error implied by Jobs' succinct brush off: Apple doesn't have a trademark on the word "Pad."
And then there's the matter of the Jobsian pot calling the trademark-infringement kettle black. Even before Jobs introduced the iPad back in January, Fujitsu reminded Cupertino that the name iPad was theirs, not Apple's. Apple and Fujitsu soon came to a settlement that transferred the name to Apple in the US - terms were not disclosed.
Plus, as we've pointed out before, the name iPad is being used by a variety of products: a credit-card swiper, pre-fab home, proposed residential tower, commercial-kitchen hardware, bra padding, and perhaps most oddly, a memo-taking iPhone app that as of Tuesday morning was still available in the App Store.
Of that line-up, the item that shares the electronics space with Apple's iPad is MagTek's encrypted credit-card swiper. Our calls to MagTek - an internationally distributed security-device company headquartered in Seal Beach, California - asking if they have either been contacted by Apple or have called Cupertino themselves were unanswered by the time we posted this story.
But Jobs contends that the word "Pad" is his. Whether or not his shoot-from-the-hip claim has any legal merit (Note to Apple lawyers: take away Steve's iPhone.) is, however, beside the point. And not only because Apple's trademark guidelines prevent the use of Apple-owned terms "in whole or in part" - although exactly what "in part" might mean is mind-numbingly amorphous.
What makes the legal underpinnings of Jobs' implied claim that Apple has a trademark on the word "Pad" meaningless is that whether or not his assertion is true, Apple still reserves the right to deny an app a place in the iTunes App Store simply because it wants to. Cupertino's iPhone Developer Program License Agreement spells it out in black and white: "Apple may, in its sole discretion ... reject Your Application for distribution for any reason, even if Your Application meets the Documentation and Program Requirements."
Chris Ostmo, the developer of the previously named journalPad, may have been right when he said "This sort of sudden policy change is the kind of thing that is destroying Apple's relationship with developers," but it's not just the "sudden policy change" that's destroying that relationship.
It's the "my way or the highway" arrogance of Steven P. Jobs. ®