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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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What a surprise
By Sharky974 on 1/12/2007 5:25:07 PM , Rating: 4
Politically correct companies like Apple dont have to follow the law.

Like Democrat politicians.

If this judge rules this way, then I hope about a million knockoff comapnies start producing their own "iphones" and confuse everybody.

Of course then, the Judge would probably simply rule that those other phones infringe on Apples trademark. Having it both ways. The bottom line is one law applies to Apple, but a stricter law applies to everybody else.

RE: What a surprise
By INeedCache on 1/12/2007 6:14:03 PM , Rating: 2
The way things are going, a judge will likely strip the name from Cisco, give it to Apple, and forbid anyone else from using "iphone", or anything else that starts with an "i". If parents name their child anything that starts with an "I", like Ian or Irene, they will have to pay Apple for a licensing agreement. Probably starting next year, a nickel surcharge will be placed on every apple purchased, which will go to Apple, of course, since they have a right to anything and everything they choose. I have no real problems with their products, but their company attitude totally sucks.

RE: What a surprise
By MustaineC on 1/12/2007 6:20:54 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. It's stupid that Apple lawyers are using the reason that "iPhone" is too generic to try to win this case.

Don't they realize that even if they win the case, they will lose anyway? There will be thousands of copycat companies from third world countries making ridiculously cheap "iPhones" and Apple won't be able to stop them.

"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer

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