Apple Sued Over iPhone Name – Lawsuit by Cisco Against Apple Cell Phone No Surprise

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It should come as no surprise at all – at least to any regular readers of the Internet Patrol – that Cisco has filed a lawsuit against Apple over the iPhone (the Apple cell phone) trademark. As we told you earlier, Cisco aquired the Linksys iPhone, along with the trademark, when Cisco aquired Linksys several years ago. Was Apple relying on an expectation of neighborly cooperation from fellow Silicon Valley giant Cisco when they knowingly chose to use Cisco’s trademark for their own iPhone, announced this week? Or did they perhaps expect their now famous use of the letter “i” to help them carry the day on this one?

Perhaps a bit of both


It is true that, according to sources, neighbors Apple and Cisco were in deep discussions over the use of the iPhone trademark. It’s quite likely that Apple expected that Cisco would be willing to license the name to them. After all, it’s not as if the Linksys iPhone (what, you never heard of it before you read about it here?) is one of Cisco’s own top profit machines, so why wouldn’t they be willing to make some money off the trademark itself by letting Apple use it? Perhaps Apple even thought they had a deal – or could force a deal – when Apple announced the iPhone this week.

But apparently not, because just this morning, Cisco filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Apple, in the Federal District Court in San Francisco, over the use of its iPhone trademark.

Confirms one of Cisco’s general counsel, Mark Chandler, “For the last few weeks, we have been in serious discussions with Apple over how the two companies could work together and share the iPhone trademark. We genuinely believed that we were going to be able to reach an agreement and Apple’s communications with us suggested they supported that goal. We negotiated in good faith with every intention to reach a reasonable agreement with Apple by which we would share the iPhone brand.”

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Then, apparently, negotiations broke down just hours before Steve Jobs’ keynote at Macworld – the keynote at which he announced the iPhone – the iPhone with the not-yet-agreed to use of that name. (Also the iPhone which can’t even be sold yet.)

“We certainly expected that since they had gone ahead and announced a product without receiving permission to use the brand, that meant that the negotiation was concluded,” explained Chandler.

Not only is negotiation concluded, but apparently Apple’s position now isn’t the most concilliatory.

 

Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman, called the lawsuit “silly”, saying that “We believe that Cisco’s U.S. trademark registration is tenuous at best. Apple’s the first company to use the iPhone name for a cell phone. And if Cisco wants to challenge us on it, we’re very confident we will prevail.”

Despite the fact that Cisco registered the iPhone trademark way back in 2000, some apparently agree with Ms. Kerris.

“Bottom line is that you’d think Cisco had a better use of its time and money than suing Apple over a word,” said an analyst at JMP Securities (showing a stunning lack of understanding about how trademark law and protection work).

Explains Chandler, “This lawsuit is about Cisco’s obligation to protect its trademark in the face of a willful violation. Our goal was collaboration. The action we have taken today is about not using people’s property without permission.”

Apple, of course, understands this. They have, after all, filed an intellectual property lawsuit or two of their own.

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3 thoughts on “Apple Sued Over iPhone Name – Lawsuit by Cisco Against Apple Cell Phone No Surprise

  1. The Linksys iPhone is a line of internet appliances from Cisco Systems. The first iPhone model, released by Infogear in 1998, combined the features of a regular phone and a web terminal. Cisco acquired which gives them the trademark. They have plenty of right to sue apple.

  2. Seems as if the pot is calling the kettle black here. Wasn`t that long ago that Apple were threatening to sue anyone who had a product with the word “pod” in the name somewhere and trying to bully said folk into stopping production of their products with a “cease and desist” letter!

  3. so Cisco is suing Apple because they acquired a trademark name “i”something from another company, that couldnt do anything with it, and they themselves didnt do anything with for 7 yrs. sounds like cisco was banking on apple sharing money, with them simply because they used a letter that has become representative of ingenuity, and advanced technology development from apple.

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