The iPad is one handy little device. It plays music. It surfs the Web. It enhances your bust line.
So Steve Jobs didn't think of everything. But there is an iPad made just for Victoria and her secrets. A small Canadian company called Coconut Grove Pads Inc. has been making a line of polyurethane bra inserts and shoulder pads registered as the iPad, since 2007.
Coconut Grove's president, Hylton Karon, described the products as "you know, little quickies you ladies use to enhance."
The Markham, Ont.-based company, which manufactures bras under the brand name The Natural, owns the iPad trademark in the United States. "Unfortunately, we didn't register it for electronics or we'd all be retired," Mr. Karon said Thursday.
Unfortunately for Apple Inc., some critics are making an association between the iPad and another intimate accessory.
After the new Apple gadget made its debut Wednesday, Twitter feeds and blogs flooded with people mocking the name because it evoked a certain feminine hygiene product. A MadTV sketch on that theme from 2006 enjoyed an Internet renaissance. The imagined tagline? "The new Apple iPad! Please don't make us explain how it works."
The brouhaha over the name, which made headlines in major publications across the globe, threatens to sap some of the hype from the heavily orchestrated launch of the iPad by Apple.
There also may be a more serious issue. Japanese computer company Fujitsu Ltd. also markets a device called the iPad. The handheld device is made for retail stores to help them manage inventory, do checkouts on the spot and communicate with co-workers. The Fujitsu iPad has been in use since 2002. The company applied for a trademark on the name in 2003, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records. The trademark was never granted to Fujitsu, however, and a fight is now brewing as Apple considers whether to file an objection with the agency to claim its right to the name.
Apple has had these types of hiccups before: After the company debuted its now wildly popular iPhone in January, 2007, Cisco Systems Inc. sued for trademark infringement. The two companies later settled.
For its part, Coconut Grove has no ambitions to go up against Apple in court. If anything, Mr. Karon said the publicity is good.
While his company "never made any intimation of being related to the big Apple," Mr. Karon said he did want to capitalize on the awareness of the i-brand.
"It's i-everything these days," he said. "It's just a play on what's become so familiar."
Mr. Karon has started a new company called Intelligent Fabrics, which will market a new brand, iFabrics.
For now he'll continue marketing his iPads, which come in sizes B to DD, to insert in bras to give a woman's figure a bit of boost. Mr. Karon is also enthusiastic about his non-slip foam shoulder pads, which were featured on the Today Show yesterday morning."Shoulder pads, which were out for many years, have come back in vogue," he said.
The shoulder pads were shown on TV under the Natural brand, but Mr. Karon hinted yesterday that now that the name has gotten some attention, he might market his own iPad a bit more actively.
While the Apple iPad has been hailed as the next big thing, iPads aren't Coconut Grove's premier product.
"It's still small. The bras are clearly a bigger part of our business," Mr. Karon said. Could the publicity change that?
"Who knows?" he said. "We'll certainly run with it!"