Apple might have taken control of the 'AirTag' trademark

AirTag (Image credit: MacRumors)

What you need to know

  • The "AirTag" trademark has been granted.
  • It's now in the hands of what is thought to be an Apple dummy company.
  • Apple AirTags could be announced soon.

Rumors of an Apple-branded Tile-like tracking have been circulating for months and just won't go away. Then yesterday references to "AirTags" were found in iOS 13.2. And now a trademark for "AirTag" has been found following some excellent MacRumors sleuthing.

According to their findings a Russian company filed a trademark application for "AirTag" in October 2018. The description filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sounds very similar to what we've been expecting Apple to announce for some time.

Systems of radio frequency identification comprised of RFID tags, RFID tag readers, and downloadable software for operating RFID readers; radio frequency identification (RFID) labels; RFID tags in form of cards, tags or key rings; RFID markers in the form of RFID signal receivers; RFID tag bracelets; RFID tag disks; RFID tag stickers; RFID tag stamps; RFID printed circuits; RFID tag boles; RFID ear tags; RFID tags in plastic or glass flasks; RFID tags in the form of keys; flexible cases especially adapted for RFID tags with a graphic image; RFID readers; blank smart cards with integrated circuit cards; computer software, recorded, for maintaining a record of issuance and control of RFID tags; all of the above designed to allow users to automatically identify them to obtain keyless access control for interlocking doors, access to various services, such as public transportation, banking, social events and various loyalty programs and not designed to work with data loggers

After some back-and-forth the application was approved in August of 2019. And on August 28th, the links to Apple started to appear.

On August 28, the same day the USPTO officially served notice that the trademark application would be published for opposition on September 17, the attorney on the application was changed to the Moscow office of Baker & McKenzie, a major law firm that Apple has worked with on a number of occasions in several countries.

But that wasn't the patent application's final resting place. Instead, a month later, it moved again. This time to a Delaware company thought to be a dummy outfit for – wait for it – Apple.

A month later, on October 1, ownership of the trademark application was officially transferred to GPS Avion LLC, a company that was only just created in July 2019 and appears to have no public presence. GPS Avion was created in Delaware through the Corporation Trust Company, which is a process Apple has used quite a few times to create shell companies in order to hide its identity when dealing with intellectual property issues.

None of this ultimately confirms that Apple now holds the trademark for "AirTag" but it does show that someone does. And considering Apple's use of "AirTags" in iOS 13.2 it's highly unlikely that company isn't related to Apple in some way.

Given the lack of an October media event, and the fact iOS 13.2 references the new tracking accessory, we expect to see AirTags announced soon. Possibly even this week and we can't wait for it to hapepn. Stay tuned!

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.