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."