Does Apple trademark filing mean PowerBook is coming back?


PowerBook 150
Apple's iconic pre-MacBook laptop brand might be making a comeback. Maybe.
Photo: Dana Sibera/Wikipedia CC

A couple of news outlets are flipping their lid over the news that Apple has filed a new worldwide trademark for the word “PowerBook,” the name of Apple’s pre-MacBook laptop series, which ran from 1991 until 2006.

The suggestion is that this could mean that Apple’s bringing back its iconic laptop brand name, either as a replacement for, or to run alongside, the MacBook series. We’re not so sure!

The trademark filing was made by lawyers who registered the address of the filing as 1 Infinite Loop, Apple’s current headquarters, prior to it moving to its new Apple Park HQ.

Additional “evidence” for the fact that Apple could be bringing back the original PowerBook name is the fact that Apple recently replaced the iPad Air with a new tablet simply called “iPad,” which is taken as meaning that Apple is “stripping its new launches back to their original models.”

They also suggest, although without citing any sources, that the new iPhone 8/iPhone Edition could be named simply “iPhone” as a typically minimalist way to celebrate the device’s tenth anniversary.

Signal or noise

Right now it seems more than a little premature to suggest that the PowerBook brand could be brought back. It’s certainly true that Apple has done more to acknowledge its past under Tim Cook than it did under Steve Jobs, but Apple has also renewed trademarks such as its iconic “Think Different” tagline — and shows no sign of putting those back into circulation.

It’s tempting to look at stories like the fact that that Apple registered the domain name years before making an iPhone, and use this to extrapolate the future, but the reality is probably a whole lot more boring than that.

In fact, a lot of Apple’s trademarks are about stopping its assets falling into other company’s hands — as happened when rival watchmaker Swatch decided to trademark Steve Jobs’ iconic “One more thing” catchphrase, shortly after Apple began competing with it in the watch business.

Personally, I’d love to see Apple do more to cater to pro-level users, whether this meant using the names MacBook and PowerBook, or sticking with MacBook and MacBook Pro. Given that Apple just refreshed the MacBook Pro with the Touch Bar version, however, it’s hard to imagine it scrapping that brand any time soon. And a MacBook Pro and PowerBook pairing would just be confusing!

Would you like to see Apple bring back the PowerBook? Leave your comments below.

Source: Huhmagazine


  • imajoebob

    It’s not that hard. They’re protecting their trademark. Trademarks are good for 10 years, then have to be renewed. but you have to file renewals by year 6. 1991, 2001, 2011. Plus 6 more years… 2017. It ain’t rocket science. They making sure Irv’s Discount Computers and Mattresses doesn’t start using the name.

  • jbelkin

    imajoebob has it exactly right … you know samsung has been eying that phrase.

  • rlkehoe

    Probably right. But I would not be surprised if Apple named a suped up iPad Pro + Apple keyboard as a PowerBook, to differentiate it from the iPad and Mac lines. I would be surprised if they replace MacBook with PowerBook, though.

  • NitzMan

    Nope, I think the PowerBook had it’s place in history, but that’s exactly where it should stay.
    As for the iPad naming convention, well there isn’t one and it’s annoying how messed up the line actually is. There’s no wonder iPad sales are shrinking.

    • imajoebob

      I still have my c.2004 PowerBook. Works like a champ. Except of course with Apple products like iTunes or linking to an iPhone…

      The best way for Apple to revive iPad sales may be to (finally) integrate their Oses. Being a cheap b@st@rd, I bought a Windows phone and Windows 10 tablet. I actually like them a lot. The integration with Windows desktop is great. Not perfect, but great. Commands are consistent, look and feel is the same, connectivity works well. I’m not expecting to run full-blown Final Cut Pro on a phone , but there’s no reason Apple can’t integrate their products under a single platform within the limitations of the hardware.

  • Dennis Leavell

    Apple needs to get their act together. They need to bring back a 17″ MBP with the innards of a MacPro. Can’t be done? This is Apple. They have the world’s best R&D team, certainly this is within reach. Not to pick a fight with Apple, because everything I own is Apple, but Apple likes to create a market that doesn’t exist, and then try to push people into that market, but what they really need is to meet the needs of photographers and graphic designers who need a serious portable (and expandable) arsenal. Nothing in their current MBP line-up comes close to the power that needs to be offered.