Cisco sues Apple for ‘iPhone’ trademark infringement

Cisco today announced that it has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Apple, Inc., seeking to prevent Apple from infringing upon and deliberately copying and using Cisco’s registered iPhone trademark.

Cisco obtained the iPhone trademark in 2000 after completing the acquisition of Infogear, which previously owned the mark and sold iPhone products for several years. Infogear’s original filing for the trademark dates to March 20, 1996. Linksys, a division of Cisco, has been shipping a new family of iPhone products since early last year. On Dec. 18, Linksys expanded the iPhone family with additional products.

“Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco’s iPhone name,” said Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel, Cisco, in the press release. “There is no doubt that Apple’s new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission.

“Today’s iPhone is not tomorrow’s iPhone. The potential for convergence of the home phone, cell phone, work phone and PC is limitless, which is why it is so important for us to protect our brand,” Chandler concluded.

With its lawsuit, Cisco is seeking injunctive relief to prevent Apple from copying Cisco’s iPhone trademark.

MacDailyNews Note: Yesterday, Cisco issued official comments on the Apple iPhone announcement: “Given Apple’s numerous requests for permission to use Cisco’s iPhone trademark over the past several years and our extensive discussions with them recently, it is our belief that with their announcement today, Apple intends to agree to the final document and public statement that were distributed to them last night and that addressed a few remaining items. We expect to receive a signed agreement today.”
Either Apple doesn’t really to use the name “iPhone” upon release (it is much more than just a phone, after all) and they’re just using it for the built-in free publicity or this is just part of a tough negotiation process. It isn’t really much of a worry either way. Remember, Apple’s “iPhone” isn’t available for pre-order, much less being sold, yet. This naming issue will be worked out by June – probably much sooner.

Related articles:
The only thing really wrong with Apple’s iPhone is its name – January 09, 2007
Briefly: Apple changes corporate name; Cisco expects agreement on ‘iPhone’ trademark today – January 09, 2007
Apple debuts iPhone: touchscreen mobile phone + widescreen iPod + Internet communicator – January 09, 2007

133 Comments

  1. AAPL took a $1.15 hit after this news broke. Then recovered by 65 cents.

    This is a non-issue for AAPL. The name of the phone could be changed, e.g. Apple Phone (to match Apple TV), and that would be the end of the matter.

    Cisco would be in a very bad legal position if someone infringes its trademark – and Cisco knows about it – and does nothing about it. Hence, Cisco HAD to file the lawsuit to protect its trademark, and negotiating position, in the face of such a public announcement by Apple.

    So I wouldn’t put much weight on this lawsuit. It is just begging to be settled out of court. Probably some last minute haggling or wrangling over some details, and then the problem will go away.

    If AAPL dips tomorrow morning as a result of this non-issue, it would be a screaming buy.

  2. Look, I respect Cisco and all, I even have a friend who works for them, but come on, who is really going to benefit from the name ‘iPhone’ more? Who wants the Cisco/Linksys iPhone???….-crickets- NOBODY. they should just sell it or at the worse, demand a royalty, even thou Mr. Jobs probably wouldn’t accept that. It sucks after seeing all the local collaboration between these companies and one of the locals left out has to ruin the party.

  3. Apple has been the registrant of the ‘iPhone.org’ domain name for years, and Cisco has failed to do anything about it.

    —————

    Because there is nothing that Cisco CAN do about it.. If Apple registered the domain, then the domain is theirs, but if Cisco has registered the name iPhone for a phone, then Apple can’t use it for a phone.

  4. Umm yeah, Willie G., I can say “free publicity,” there, I said it..

    Now what’s your point?

    Are you saying Apple would’ve had less publicity for the iPhone if they used a different name? I don’t think so. Apple could’ve called the iPhone “turd phone” and it still would’ve been in every headline.

  5. Famous, outrageous Steve Jobs and Apple arrogance has resulted in casting a shadow over yesterday’s brilliance.

    Now, Steve pays through the nose for the name he wants (translation: higher phone price) or he finds another name.

    But, you know, something really catchy like Apple Computer Phone is available now that Steve is getting out of the computer business.

  6. First, I’m sick of CISCO.
    Crappy company.
    Used to be great.
    Apple should watch CISCO closely. Apple could become a mere shadow of its once self also.

    Second…

    Call it

    iDevice
    or
    iCom
    or
    MyPhone

    Then buy the Cisco Kid tv show and sue CISCO for copyright infringement.

  7. If you look closly, nowhere on that phone doe sit actually say “iPhone.” As we all know, Apple has always put the name on the product… with the exception of the Powermac G5 and servers.

    This is key. They don’t actually plan on calling it iPhone in my estimation.

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