Apple could face a trademark battle over the Vision Pro in China. The headset’s original name could help.
Until shortly before the official unveiling of the Apple Vision Pro at this year’s WWDC developer conference, it was speculated that Apple’s VR/AR headset would be called the Reality Pro. In his latest newsletter, Apple insider Mark Gurman explains if this was indeed the case and why the Reality Pro brand could still be useful for Apple in China.
Reality Pro: Apple owns naming rights
Gurman himself reported last year that the brand names “Reality Pro”, “Reality One” and “Reality Processor” were trademarked by an ominous company called “Immersive Health Solutions LLC”. According to Gurman, while it could not be proven that Apple was behind the patents, a connection was obvious.
Now it has been confirmed that the trademark rights to “Reality Pro” belong to Apple and were transferred from the shell company to the Cupertino-based tech giant. So the name “Apple Reality Pro” was actually intended for the headset. However, Apple later changed its strategy and wanted to go more in the direction of Mixed Reality and XR when it came to branding.
The internal name of the operating system changed from “realityOS” to “xrOS”. Before the official presentation, Apple changed its mind again and dropped Virtual Reality. Terms like Mixed Reality or Augmented Reality were also dropped from the marketing concept.
Apple Vision Pro in China: Is a trademark battle looming?
Gurman believes that the Reality brand could still prove useful for Apple. It is known that Apple finally decided on the name “Vision Pro” with the operating system “visionOS”. However, this could lead to a legal dispute in China.
There, Huawei already owns the rights to the “Vision Pro” brand and actively uses it for various products such as smart TVs and smart glasses. If Apple wanted to sell its headset in China under the Vision Pro name, it would have to negotiate with Huawei and pay for the trademark. In 2012, Apple paid about $60 million for the rights to the name “iPad” in China.
The much cheaper alternative would be to release it under a different name, such as Apple Reality Pro, which in turn would require a change in marketing strategy around spatial computing. Much will depend on the success of the VR/AR headset launch. The Apple Vision Pro is expected to launch in the U.S. in early 2024, with other countries to follow.