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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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RE: If that's the case...
By zombiexl on 1/12/2007 10:51:27 AM , Rating: 5
If "iPhone" is too generic for just a single company to use, then any other "i" trademark that Apple has should suffer the same consequence, and all suits Apple filed against companies who make arcade game coin counters and laptop sleaves should be overturned.

I was thinking the same thing..
If this turns out like this then MS should rebrand Zune the MS iPod to confuse all the people who buy these things based on the iPod name.

RE: If that's the case...
By phatboye on 1/12/2007 11:04:09 AM , Rating: 4
Cisco should retaliate by making a mp3 player called the "IPod" and market a service for downloading music called "ITunes".

RE: If that's the case...
By Spivonious on 1/12/2007 12:17:51 PM , Rating: 2
Scotties should call their tissues Kleenex.

RE: If that's the case...
By patentman on 1/15/2007 8:35:43 AM , Rating: 2
iPod is not a generic term. If anything, it is a "fanciful" term (actual terminology used in Trademark law).

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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