The short answer is ‘no’. Apple Earpods debuted in 2012, a full six years after the ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘Rise of the Cybermen’ first aired.
Within the context of the series, the Earpod devices were designed as a metaphor for society’s perceived over-reliance on portable technology in the 21st century. The name ‘Earpod’ was a play on words, meant to superficially sound like the word ‘iPod’.
In addition, the fictional earpieces were mainly utilized as a way to re-package classic Doctor Who antagonists the Cybermen for a new audience (who may have been unfamiliar with them following the gap between the show’s cancellation in 1989 and its subsequent reintroduction in 2005). Variations on the Earpod device are also utilized in later episodes from the same series (in particular, ‘Army of Ghosts’).
Whilst it is something of a stretch to imagine that nobody at Apple has ever watched ‘Doctor Who’, the use of the name did not seem to affect the American computer firm’s decision to create and market their own brand of ‘Earpod’, in 2012.
doctor who earpiece
In terms of legality, it seems reasonable to assume that ‘Doctor Who’ created the brand name for satiric purposes, rather than to create an entirely fictional brand/product (such as The Simpson’s ‘Duff Beer’).
Had Apple simply adopted a product name already owned by the BBC, there may have been a legal scuffle between the two corporations, but since BBC’s product was obviously intended as a wry commentary or, at most, a satirical send-up of existing technology (in particular technology made and marketed by Apple), then it is highly doubtful that there was any friction at all.
Apple’s Earpods (which, as far as we know, have never caused anybody to be turned into a cybernetic creature hell-bent on universal obliteration) are available at a fairly affordable price (the Apple site lists them at £25.00 before P&P), but do not have a reputation for being one of the company’s better products. In a particularly scathing review, TechRadar wrote that,
“The tinkle at the high-end is certainly better than before, and there’s improved bass as well. So they’re more than good enough if sound quality is not something you are bothered about. If you’re going to be buying an iPhone 5 or one of the new iPods, you’ll be getting some marginally better earphones than you might have expected, so that’s a good thing. But for anyone thinking of buying these things separately for £25/$30 – forget it. That price is utterly ludicrous. For that money you could bag yourself a decent pair of Sennheisers – low end ones admittedly – but they would still be head and shoulders better than the Apple EarPods. In fact, we challenge you to find a pair of £25 earphones on Amazon that sound worse than this – you won’t be able to”.
All things considered, the Earpod is a pretty basic variation on the standard Apple headphones. It is not even marginally related to the mind-controlling earpieces utilized by the Cybermen. At least, as far as we know…