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Judge may rule that the term "iPhone" is too generic for one company to own

A day after Apple announced the iPhone, Cisco Systems quickly filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the computer company infringed on its trademark. True enough, Cisco's consumer arm Linksys had released a product called the iPhone earlier than Apple, and the trademark name "iPhone" had been owned by Cisco for several years already. Despite all this, Apple decided to launch its mobile communications device under the iPhone name anyway -- a move declared as extremely bold by many analysts.

In a report, Cisco mentioned that Apple had repeatedly approached it for permission to use the iPhone name, but no solid agreement had ever come to realization. Now, however, it could be possible that both companies will be allowed to use the iPhone name -- and so would everyone else, says a trademark expert.

According to Brian Banner, a seasoned attorney dealing with intellectual property and trademarks at Rothwell Figg, the "iPhone" name may actually be generic enough that a judge will rule it usable by both Apple and Cisco. The ruling will be under condition however, that a company name be attached to the term "iPhone," like "Apple iPhone" or "Cisco iPhone." Banner mentioned that the term may also be deemed generic enough to use by any company.

"They must have figured the reward would be greater than the risk. They probably did a lot of homework before calling it the iPhone and figured that the registration Cisco has is not a serious impediment," says Banner. But this is definitely not what Cisco thinks. Cisco representatives indicated that it will vigorously defend what it owns. Apple on the other hand disagrees with Cisco. "We believe that Cisco's U.S. trademark is tenuous at best," said Apple representative Katie Cotton. "We are the first company to use the iPhone name for a cell phone and we're confident we will prevail."




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I honestly hope apple loses
By lufoxe on 1/12/2007 10:35:51 AM , Rating: 2
They are the first ones to jump on copywrite infringement, then they go ahead and use a name that was already registered and expect to be different? cmon Jobs, the law that applies for everyone applies to you. If you want your i in front of a phone, b/c you believe it's a marketing thing, try something like iCell people will still know it's a cellphone. It's actions like this, that get me pissed off at apple, inc. Cisco has the copywrite and have released an iphone already:
http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=5374
so I doubt it's "tenious"




RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By masher2 (blog) on 1/12/2007 12:01:10 PM , Rating: 3
First of all, you should learn the difference between a trademark and a copyright. Secondly, learn the reasoning behind this action, and you might well understand the case. I'll give you a hint-- do you see Ford, GM, or Toyota trying to trademark the word "car" ?


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By lufoxe on 1/12/2007 12:18:57 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
do you see Ford, GM, or Toyota trying to trademark the word "car"

no sir, BUT you don't see ford releasing a corvette. That name is owned by chevy. What apple did was the equivalent of ford making a mustang, and then chevy releasing a mustang and using the excuse that they made a car that started with M. you can't do that. Or let's do something more relevant, apple released the ipod, I now in turn want to release an MP3 player... so I call it the ipod. I'm currently in negotiations with apple to use the ipod name. that fails, so I go ahead and release the ipod anyway. Now you're telling me that I'm in the right b/c ipod is to general of a name? It's not to general of a name, and apple owns the name. What you think the situation is and what it actually is are two different things.
Maybe if you realized this:
quote:
you might well understand the case.


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By masher2 (blog) on 1/12/2007 1:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
> "no sir, BUT you don't see ford releasing a corvette. That name is owned by chevy"

Reread my post; I made it very clear. The word "corvette" has a dictionary meaning-- "a lightly armored warship", or something thereabouts. Thus, one can trademark "Corvette" to sell any product except warships. It can even be simultaneously trademarked in two different fields, as long as there is no opportunity for confusion. For instance, a company could trademark "Corvette Grape Juice", and most likely get away with it.

But you cannot trademark a dictionary word in its original context. You cannot trademark "Apple" to sell apples. You cannot trademark "Car" to sell cars. And you cannot trademark "shoe" to sell...shoes. Understand now?

This is why Apple believes "iPhone" cannot be trademarked in conjunction with phones. Because it is too similar to the word "phone" itself. You can trademark "iPhone" to sell something OTHER than a phone...but this isn't what Cisco has done.


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By sdsdv10 on 1/12/2007 1:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is why Apple believes "iPhone" cannot be trademarked in conjunction with phones. Because it is too similar to the word "phone" itself. You can trademark "iPhone" to sell something OTHER than a phone...but this isn't what Cisco has done.


If I understand you correctly and Apple wins this case (hypothetically), would that mean any company could come out with a phone and call it "iPhone"?


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By masher2 (blog) on 1/12/2007 2:02:40 PM , Rating: 2
> "If I understand you correctly and Apple wins this case (hypothetically), would that mean any company could come out with a phone and call it "iPhone"? "

Yes they could.


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By ani4ani on 1/12/2007 6:52:27 PM , Rating: 2
and that is the very reason Apple have come with a product called iPhone!


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By HammerZ on 1/12/2007 7:08:18 PM , Rating: 2
And that is the very reason why Cisco sued them. Only time will tell. I suspect that this will be over very soon. I highly doubt that Apple is foolish enough to delay resolving this. They need to ramp to production soon. There's just too much financial risk to drag this out.



RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By abu723 on 1/14/2007 6:29:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is why Apple believes "iPhone" cannot be trademarked in conjunction with phones. Because it is too similar to the word "phone" itself. You can trademark "iPhone" to sell something OTHER than a phone...but this isn't what Cisco has done.


If Apple truely believes in this argument, then why did it ask Cisco for permission to use the name in the first place? Did it only come up with this argument after Cisco denied its request? Furthermore, why has Apple applied for trademarks in various countries across the world since 2004. It has applied for trademarks in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. (check it here: http://10layers.com/2006/10/apple-filing-for-iphon... )


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By masher2 (blog) on 1/14/2007 7:47:49 PM , Rating: 2
> "If Apple truely believes in this argument, then why did it ask Cisco for permission to use the name in the first place?"

First of all, its not simply Apple who believes this, but many trademark/IP attorneys, well versed in relevant case law here.

As for why Apple attempted to get permission, I'm sure you can figure that out for yourself. Why spend money and time to fight a legal battle if its avoidable through a little diplomacy?

> "Furthermore, why has Apple applied for trademarks in various countries across the world since 2004."

Are you seriously attempting this argument? That, because Apple challenges the validity of one single trademark, it shouldn't be allowed to use any others? Come sir, you can do better than this.



RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By abu723 on 2/4/2007 2:07:34 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Are you seriously attempting this argument? That, because Apple challenges the validity of one single trademark, it shouldn't be allowed to use any others? Come sir, you can do better than this.


If you actually clicked on the link you would know that the trademark I'm talking about and the one that Apple has applied for in other countries is the same one they say shouldn't be trademarked, =>"iPhone".


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By blanger on 1/12/2007 1:06:00 PM , Rating: 1
I am really tired of trademarks and copyright but first - yes I am a MAC user and have been for 20 years and no I don't get paid to post messages. Normally I do not post messages but thats another store.
This is my 2 cents - first of all we have to understand how apple is using "i" in regards to product naming. Imac Ipod as I personal see it mean myMac myPod. Bad english yes but a pattern. The patter began back in 98 to great success. Then of course what happens is that companies see success and try to ride the coat tails of that success.
Apple has produce a whole line of "i" products. I guess in a capilistic socity we should all run out and try to trademark Icar Istove Ishoes etc and then maybe we could cash in without doing the hard work of building a brand.
Personally Apple was creative enough to build the "i" brand and should be allowed to use it, but as I have said I am a MAC user and love my MAC products.


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 1/12/2007 1:14:49 PM , Rating: 2
Except that iPhone was trademarked back in '96. Before the iMac came to market.


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By blanger on 1/12/2007 1:48:53 PM , Rating: 2
I guess the question I am raising is what about the cost of building the brand. Until last week I had never heard the term iphone. Additionally cisco did not buy the trademark until after apples "I" products were launch. But here is the question if you hear the term iphone or icomputer or ipalm which company would you think created that product?

If something "just do it" for example becomes sonomus with a brand sholud that be trademarkable. Additionally Martha Stewart should be able to call here next cook book MS recipies. MicroSoft has built the brand and products using the acroynum MS so maybe a small or large business should leverage that brand.

The question come down to does the majority of the public see the "i" acroynum as a part of apple if it does then trademarked or not cisco is infringing on apple's brand


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By masher2 (blog) on 1/12/2007 2:04:49 PM , Rating: 2
Just FYI, Intel had trademarked the lowercase "i" in conjunction with semiconductors back in the 1980s. It was eventually declared overly broad, and struck down.

And, by the way, Martha Stewart could indeed sell cookbooks labelled "MS". If she tried to sell computer software under that name, however, she may well run into difficulties.


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By blanger on 1/12/2007 2:24:09 PM , Rating: 2
I guess what I am getting at is that the smaller business gets harassed. If Martha Stewart or any one else tried to put a cook book out on CD or with a comapnion CD call MS receipies MicroSoft would sue and if a small unknown publisher tried it they would be crushed like a bug. Trademark laws are made and used by big companies to stop competition or in this case to force another to your will.

I find it amusing the cisco does not want money they be happy to share the name if apple would agree to a partnership.

But either way apple and to some extent cisco wins because in the end all the press is worth more than the name. Working in marketing and running a business you can not pay for this kind of press and discussion.

We are all talking about apple and cisco and that will suit them just fine.
Who knows maybe the partnership is already in place and this is just good marketing


By masher2 (blog) on 1/12/2007 2:31:03 PM , Rating: 2
There are far more cases of a large firm being sued by a small company or an individual. Suits tend to go after those with deep pockets.

One thing people don't understand is that, in the case of trademark law, companies are legally required to defend their trademark, lest they lose it. A company can't simply choose to ignore a particular case of infringement, lest some other company use that against them to remove their ownership entirely. This is why you so often see large companies suing for what you may feel is arbitrary, minor infringement. They're not looking for money or trying to harrass anyone....they're merely defending their own property against loss.


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By MobileZone on 1/12/2007 6:06:05 PM , Rating: 2
What about iPaqs? Apple should ban them?


RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By Terrin on 1/12/07, Rating: 0
RE: I honestly hope apple loses
By Chillin1248 on 1/13/2007 2:25:51 PM , Rating: 4
Except you whole arguement goes out the window when you realize the fact that the "iPhone" was trademarked in 1996, before any Apple "i" series products.

So then I guess you reason the Apple is the one who hijacked the "i" brand then.
-------
Chillin


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