back to article Apple moans over sex toy ad

Apple isn't tickled over an Ann Summers sex toy ad that mimics the company's iconic silhouette ipod campaign. News of the World reports Apple lawyers are flushed over sex shops hawking a £30 iGasm peripheral, which plugs into a music player and vibrates to the beat. The ads picture the silhouette of a woman on bended knee …


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  1. Webster Phreaky

    Stevie Gets Off on Illegal Stock Options

    That's Wallet masterbation for the Jobs.

  2. Greg Nelson

    Jobs & Stallman?

    I'm not sure I understand. What is Apple doing with GNU asm and who're Ann Summers and Jacqueline Gold? Although it's good to see women getting involved in IT, especially assembly code, bitch'n. I tried to learn to code asm mainly to play 'games' with softice under win98. Often it brought a smile to my face.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So the wankers have copyrighted or trademarked "i"? What a bunch of morons...

  4. Joel

    Re: wtf?

    Presumably it's the ad looking like an iPod ad which is getting Apple hot under the gusset...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

    Rather than just a dull buzzing sensation that any streetwise chick could obtain via a bag of honey bees or wasps, someone should design a Rampant Rabbit jive box. It should just be a matter of wiring an ipod to the crankshaft of the Rampant beast.

    First it goes this way, then it goes that way depending on the beat variation of the album being listened to (Steps or S-Club 7).

    The idea could be extended into strip clubs - nipple-tassles which pick up the ambient music and swing themselves, taking the burden away from the erm, performing artist.

    As Alan Partridge once said "You can make them go that way, and you can make them go that way, but you can't make them go bothways".

    Well, Sir Alan of Partridge, now you can.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i copyright

    no the 'i' isnt copyrighted, but the near identical ad is

  7. WT

    its not about the "i"

    If you are presenting your products in such a way that they can easily be confused as having been made by another (typically well known) company, then under the law that is called "passing off". It's not the "i" - it's the whole thing.

    In other words: You may walk a lot like a duck or you may talk a lot like a duck, but only if you are a duck are you allowed to walk and talk just like a duck.

  8. Player_16

    It's not the 'i'...

    ... it's the poster. There's HEAPS of iPod related sex toys out there; it's just the poster that has Apple's nickers in a twist!

  9. Technophile ad, but time to go.

    No they didn't copyright the "i". I give kudos to this brazen advertisment, but it is due time that they do the right thing and remove it as the original company asks. Why? Because companies like this spend millions of dollars promoting the symbol for their products and brand. This is using their brand and advertisment for a free jump into the spotlight. More importantly it can have negative outcomes for the parent company. Dont' believe? What is the No.1, most recognized product symbol in the world? The Coca-Cola™ wave. Doesn't even need the lettering. You can go from New York to Istanbul and show the symbol and everybody knows it means Coke™. That symbol and its colours are directly related to that product. (The number 2 is the Apple, Inc. bitten apple icon).

    When you see this ad, it reminds you of the iPod. Absolutely no question about it. From the coloring to the posing to the white wires running from hand to chest. No doubt it is a blatant rip off of the iPod advertisment. Apple, and most companies don't want their image associated with sex toys.

    Easy one. Only a fool, or someone without knowledge over the psychological aspects of marketing would say otherwise.

  10. Daniel Silver badge

    Re: wtf?:

    @bws: it's got nothing to do with the 'i', they're annoyed because they use silhouettes of people in their ads, and now Ann Summers are doing the same. If anything this is a harder case to prove than a copyrighted 'i' but I'm sure the Jobsworths will do their best...

  11. heystoopid

    Oh well

    Oh well, what was the plot again , for even the redoubtable Jean LaFitte would crack a smile with all this legal piracy flying through the air rather than usual broadside of Grapeshot he was so adept at using way back when the average US Fir Built Frigate use to turn tail and flee before a lightly armed captured French built sloop flying the white ensign on the Atlantic Seaboard!

    Sadly , though is this the same team of sour grape legal losers , that finally gave internet bloggers the same rights as newspaper reporters , that be the question?

    Hmm, this one has the air of a vexatious law suit!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Basically Ann Summers is "passing off", or is that "whacking off" in this case?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on a minute!!

    What are Apple whinging about? every one of these that sells could be a potential i-Pod (r) sale if they include a voucher, why dont they look at the big picture? Also a section of i-Tunes (r) with bpm and bass figures would help sales

    dont be so narrow minded Jobs

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Passing off as Apple?

    Apple would never make something that would make people feel orgasmic about their products.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I suppose one of the reasons Apple is getting so hot under the collar is the value of iPod is almost entirely the brand itself. A portable hard disc based music player is a generic idea that predates iPod by quite some years, the only value Apple added was in attractive design, packaging and a marketing effort that is almost without parallel. They've took an idea they didn't invent, make it their own and added enormous value through the brand itself. The value of iPod is not in the device, a mediocre audio player of poor battery life and middle of the road sound quality. The value is in the brand. No wonder Apple will fight to the death to protect it. I don't particularly care for Apple, but in their defence, Ann Summers is trying to make money from ideas they didn't create to peddle a wanking aid. They should stick to rabbits and naughty undies.

  16. Jim

    Oh Yawn!

    This has nothing to do with an "i" or a Silhouette or white wires running anywhere. Apple are just keen to sue people at the moment, excited at the notion of coming in from the corporate wildness after so many years trying to convince people that their overpriced, over heating, over hyped electric typewriter replacements are actually worth buy and worthy of a stand alongside windows. They gave that up and opted for a newer market which they have done a good job cornering, but let's face it - making a little box containing a mini screen, a memory chip (or hard disk) and a speaker jack does NOT make them a serious contender in the IT arena so they are keen to make sure that by hook or by crook everyone knows there name.

    They should be pleased that companies selling "add-on" products to their overpriced iPods use such familiar imagery so that the punter associate the new gizmo with the iPod and think oooo must go buy one now I have something worthwhile to do with it. That said like many American companies and entrepreneurs Apple and Steve (gimme a) Jobs are a bunch of tight assed, creationist puritans probably best avoided and left back in the 19th Century.


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This idea has already been parodied by Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs - Steve produces a white tube with a usb cable and asks Bill if he wants to make "creamy love" to his laptop !

  18. David

    Apple and Ann Summers fighting all the way to the bank

    Of course the ad infringes on Apple's imagery, that's obvious. But the whole fuss is quite amusing given that this is just another nail in the coffin of all proper MP3 players as the iPod marches to world domination and becomes synonymous with all portable music players, much like the Walkman did for tape players.

    This is free advertising for the iPod, and if the Americans weren't such prudes they would see the funny side and the plus side. This hardly "taints" the Apple brand; strictly speaking Ann Summers are freeloading, but I should think that both sides will end up winners: well, everywhere except the US bible belt maybe.

  19. James


    Just as a thought, is this covered by parody laws at all?

    I'm not quite sure what's got Apple so up in arms about the whole thing, its a mark of success for them that someone's using their advertising, and if you walk into any HMV you can see whole racks of iWhatever products. All of them accessories for the iPod and very few made by Apple. Yet all of them use similar packaging, design and even advertising.

    Seems that Apple's just upset that their little mp3 player might be associated with female orgasms. I don't really see the problem.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't this come under the heading of Parody?

    In many countries, it is perfectly legal to make a parody of an otherwise copyright item. Take the Barron Knights, for instance -- every one of their songs is a parody of a song by the Beatles, Rolling Stones etc. Not only is parody legal, it is specifically protected. One of the few rights a member of the public has against a copyright item is to parody it.

    As I understand it, the owner of the original copyright cannot prevent another from making a parody of it. It can possibly seek to obtain a "reasonable" proportion of the income arising from the parody, but even then it cannot make the fees so high as to prevent the parody from being marketed.

  21. lansalot

    would renaming it help ?

    I vote for calling it the "iPoke" ?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Confused as having been made by apple!!?!

    Won't they have to prove that people assumed that it is an apple product? It never crossed my mind for a second that this was an apple product. And to be honest they are making themselves look like a bunch of d#cks by taking legal action....

  23. Matt Milford

    Free (Illegal) Advertising?

    I would have thought the legal dept at Ann Summers where well aware that apple would probably do this, as this is quite clearly copyright infrigement.

    But now its on the register, and no doubt being reported in the media elsewhere, how much free advertising have they got in this way?

    True, they have to remove the poster, but as apple don't own the copyright on the letter i, people will still remember the iGasm.

    Take a bad example, I wonder if Thermos could sell the iFlask, with the same type of advertising campaign, and wait for the all free press about copyright infrigement.

  24. Zero


    Could also be because Apple themselves market an iPod powered sex toy, as I found out when visiting their shop in London.

  25. Chris

    It's plagiarism - quite simple

    Whether you love or hate Apple or Ann Summers or both, the simple fact is that Ann Summers has ripped off a very well-known campaign from Apple to gain an unfair advantage when promoting their own product. This isn't funny or particularly clever. This isn't a parody, it's not making a philosphical statement, it's for commercial gain. It's just unimaginative and despicable.

    I sincerely doubt this is about the "i" moniker - it's about the look+feel of a branding campaign that has been flat-out copied.

    The point isn't whether Apple should be 'happy' that they're getting free press or extra attention. It's not David versus Goliath and no amount of trying to turn this into an issue of free speech or corporate greed can take away the fact that Ann Summers or their ad agency are trying to get away with laziness..

  26. James Pickett

    Rotten to the core

    And did Apple ask permission to use the term Macintosh, or to use Xerox's GUI? Pots and kettles, methinks.

    Of course, this is excellent free publicity for AS, largely paid for by Apple's lawyers. Way to go!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obvious parody

    When the iPod came out I thought there was an obvious parody.

    Imagine a silhouette figure obviously sitting down white cords to his ears. A chain dangles down besides his head. And his trousers around his ankles. - The iPoo

  28. Rob

    Another battle in the war of marketing.

    I'd hardly call a parody of a well known marketing campign lazy especially when the bods at Ann Summers knew it was coming. This smacks of being a bit cheeky as the publicity generated by in legal battles alone is enough work to be getting on with.

    And yes you can still call it a parody, comedians do parodies all the time and they make money from it, so how are they not considered making gain from a parody.

    Damn funny though, and kudos to Ann Summers for keeping with their fun corporate image.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I can understand the fuss if this obviously iPod related ad were being used to promote some unrelated product, but the fact is that the product being advertised in an iPod accessory!

    I think the imagery is well targeted and very relevent because buyers of the gadget need to own an iPod to use it. Unfortunately that doesn't necessarily make it legal...

  30. Luca Spiller

    Maybe they should sue over Ann Summers' logo too....

    People could get confused with a red apple...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    gotta' protect it, even if it helps you

    Apple has to actively protect their work, even if they don't mind the "free press" or the specific use; otherwise they can lose their rights to protect it when they don't like the use. So even if the AS ad(s) help both companies, if AS didn't license the campaign, they have to stop and/or get sued. Them's the rules.

    I could see this getting resolved by AS paying Apple $1 for limited rights to the branding. Or something "non-frivolous", so that a future judge reviewing a future case that Apple really cares about doesn't toss the whole thing out on its ear.

    'course Apple may really not like the ads, either. But that doesn't matter if they want to protect their campaign.

  32. Dillon Pyron

    RE: Passing off as Apple

    "Apple would never make something that would make people feel orgasmic about their products."

    Apple fans are always orgasmic when a new product comes out. The iPhone is current evidence of that.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Correct me if I'm wrong, Silhouette on coloured background.... me thinks James Bond opening titles in errr most films....

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shaken, not stirred.

    The dancing silhouettes ARE iconic images. Unfortunately for Apple, they are instantly recognisable as the opening credits of a James Bond movie.

  35. Andy Bright

    Rebrand that's the answer

    The little gizmo that goes 'down there' is presumably sort of pod-shapped.. so why not rename it to iPod?

    Then just drop a note off to Apple saying the ads are for iPods not iGasms, and everything will be cool (until someone from Apple decides to buy one).

    As for Apple not making good computers, you're having a laugh right? Look 2% of the IT market can't be wrong..

    As for the Walkman thing - remember that eventually Walkman became as generic a name as Hoover (in the UK Hoovering means Vacuuming). Towards the end of the age of the CD player hardly anyone actually bought a Sony Walkman.

    I know companies spend millions trying to prevent their brand names from becoming generic language, but eventually it happens. One day googling will just mean using a search engine and iPod will just mean MP3 player - if it doesn't then Apple have got a lot more to worry about, because it'll mean something has replaced their product as the defacto choice.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit

    >> Rather than just a dull buzzing sensation that any streetwise chick could obtain via a bag of honey bees or wasps...

    Probably better to buy an iPod. That way you only get stung once.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely this ad nostaligically reminds us all of the old days when iPods were new and expensive and only owned by stuck-up a**holes?

  38. cloudberry


    Here in Auckland, a church is using a similar tack. The character in black profile is a priest, with only one square, his clerical collar, in white. The poster also has the word "iGod".

  39. David

    Re: iGod

    So Jobs really could be the Man Who Sued God?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And another thing...

    Has anyone else noticed that Ann Summers is a sex shop that is so lame they don't have to have a licence and can let minors in?

    If you are going to shop at a sex shop, you should feel, at least, just a little dirty when you come out. It makes it much more fun.

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