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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: I honestly hope apple loses
By sdsdv10 on 1/12/2007 1:21:39 PM , Rating: 2
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 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.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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