Print 15 comment(s) - last by masher2.. on Jan 20 at 3:22 PM

Apple gets taken to court over infringements again

OPTi Inc. today announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. for patent infringement. According to OPTi, Apple infringed on not just one but three patents. All three patents are part of what OPTi refers to as "Predictive Snooping of Cache Memory for Master-Initiated Accesses." Apple appears to have infringed on three patents in that family: U.S. Patent No. 5,710,906, Patent No. 5,813,036 and Patent No. 6,405, 291.

According to OPTi, Apple infringed on the above patents by utilizing Predictive Snooping technology in its line of Mac servers, desktops and laptop computers. OPTi is currently waiting on a jury trial with Apple and is pursing patent infringement lawsuits with other unnamed companies as well.

So far in 2007, Apple has been met with more than one lawsuit. Cisco recently filed a lawsuit against Apple for trademark infringement of the "iPhone" trade name. Having trademarked "iPhone" many years before the actual Apple iPhone was conceived, Cisco said it is protecting its intellectual property rights. Cisco's consumer arm Linksys released its own iPhone several weeks prior to Apple.

Apple defended itself by claiming that Cisco's lawsuit was "tenuous at best," and it believes it will come out of the case with a victory. Despite Apple's optimistic outlook, analysts and legal experts believe that Cisco will win a straight forward case.

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What next..?
By brshoemak on 1/18/2007 8:50:25 PM , Rating: 2
Despite Apple's optimistic outlook, analysts and legal experts believe that Cisco will win a straight forward case.

Assuming Cisco does win this case (which I belive they should) what kind of resolution could Cisco legally seek? I don't see Steve Jobs writing off the entire marketing budget for the iPhone and switching it to other name, but can Cisco compel Apple to drop the iPhone monikor or would it just result in damages or royalties?

RE: What next..?
By patentman on 1/18/2007 9:07:52 PM , Rating: 2
A bit off topic, considering the nature of the suit that promulgated this article, but under trademark law, Cisco could force apple to drop the iphone moniker, if the courts find that concurrent use of the mark by apple and cisco is likely to cause confusion.

RE: What next..?
By Ard on 1/18/2007 9:30:50 PM , Rating: 2
As well as receive any potential profits Apple gained by using the name, albeit briefly, any damages Cisco may have suffered, and possibly court costs...just some of the perks of owning a registered trademark ;)

RE: What next..?
By masher2 on 1/18/2007 9:46:16 PM , Rating: 1
Every legal expert I've heard from says otherwise, that Cisco is very likely to lose the case. And based on what I've heard of the case, I tend to agree with them.

RE: What next..?
By cgrecu77 on 1/19/2007 9:24:15 AM , Rating: 2
right, if cisco loses this case then there really is no justice in america ... These are the facts:
a. Cisco has the trademark
b. Cisco sells (right now) a product with that name in the same industry (not exactly the same type of product, but in the SAME field)
c. Apple approached Cisco for purchasing the trademark - therefore knew and acknowledged that Cisco had the name

I would be really interesting to know what's Apple's argument here? The only thing they could attack is that Linksys iPhone is not a cellular which would be idiotic. It's like AMD releasing a new video card called Pentium 5 ... Yeah, it's not a CPU so we can use Pentium.

Futhermore, I think Apple was VERY arrogant here, because they were in talks with CISCO to acquire the name and decided to slap CISCO on the wrist and launch the product anyway. It would be really dangerous if Apple would win this, even though CISCO is not really a little guy.

I don't even want to think about if Microsoft would have done this ... It never ceases to amaze me the amount of double-standards on these internet forums ...

RE: What next..?
By masher2 on 1/19/2007 9:58:14 AM , Rating: 1
> "I would be really interesting to know what's Apple's argument here?"

This has already been covered in painstaking detail in other threads here. There are several arguments against Cisco's use of the trademark. First of all, they failed to use it for many years. The law does not allow "warehousing" of trademarks...if you don't use it, you lose it. In fact, nonuse for three consecutive years is prima facie evidence of abandonment....yet Cisco waited nearly a full decade before bringing out a product.

Another, even more telling argument, is generality. You cannot trademark the word "apple" to sell apples. The strongest trademarks are so-called "fanciful" terms, which bear no relation whatsoever to the product to which they are attached. For instance, the word "Nike" or a swoop logo in no way describes a shoe in general. Thus that trademark is fanciful, and considered strong.

Now, consider the term "iPhone". It automatically makes me think of "Internet Phone", just as "eMail" means electronic mail. And what has Cisco attached to that trademark? An internet phone! The mark is far too general to receive protection.

The third argument is that a cell phone and an Internet VoIP phone are two different products, in two different markets. Trademarks ARE allowed to be used simultaneously by different companies, as long as there is no opportunity for consumer confusion. This argument is the weakest, obviously, as the two markets are indeed quite similar. Still, it may be ruled favorably...and even if not, either of the other two claims are sufficient in of themselves.

RE: What next..?
By Verdic on 1/19/2007 6:15:07 PM , Rating: 2
I like the second argument. Has anyone told Microsoft that they can name their service iTunes?

RE: What next..?
By masher2 on 1/20/2007 3:22:52 PM , Rating: 1
Microsoft might well have had a chance to do so, when iTunes was first introduced. Given its name recognition now, however, the mark is likely close to a designation of "famous trademark" status, which gives it additional protection under the law. That's one way marks can grow stronger over time...people associate the mark indelibly with the product.

The flip side of that is genericide..where people associate the mark not with that specific product, but all similar products. Trademarks such as "nylon", "aspirin", "zipper", "fridge", etc, are all cases of mark genericide...and marks today such as "xerox" and "google" are at risk of going the same route.

RE: What next..?
By santa590 on 1/18/2007 11:10:03 PM , Rating: 2
There seems to be a possibility that Cisco may have lost the trademark. Don't know the exact details, but it seems the trademark needs to be actively used, but Cisco wasn't able to file a product until a few days before the trademark expired.

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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