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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 tungtung on 1/12/2007 3:53:08 PM , Rating: 2
What I don't understand, why haven't Cisco sue Comwave. Cause they also use the term "iPhone" for their telephony service.
http://www.comwave.net/CDN/iPhone/

Or maybe just because the service is for Canadians (I think it's available in Canada only), and the "iPhone" trademark held by Cisco doesn't cover Canada.

I honestly don't understand, and to be absolutely honest, Apple's iPhone blew Cisco's product out of the water. So maybe jealousy may actually be the main reason here.


RE: If that's the case...
By HammerZ on 1/12/2007 6:39:43 PM , Rating: 2
Good question. Probably because comwave does not have the cash or potential revenue to make it worth it. It may be a different situation if Comwave becomes bigger.

As for the last comment in your post, I would have to disagree w/ the logic. Cisco is a networking/communication company that is trying to get into the consumer space (based on some of its recent acquisition). It is not out of the question for Cisco to add cellular capabilities to its iPhone. If that were to happen, we would have two iPhones w/ similar features...I think Cisco has a case to defend the "iPhone" name here.


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