Apple given more time to respond to iPhone trademark infringement suit

The battle commanders over the iPhone trademark on Thursday agreed to a temporary truce in hopes of reaching an agreement before taking things to the courts.

In a joint statement from Apple and Cisco regarding iPhone trademark, the companies have announced that they “have agreed to extend the time for Apple to respond to the lawsuit to allow for discussions with the aim of reaching agreement on trademark rights and interoperability.”

While the iPhone name may already be associated with Apple and the rest of its iLife products, Cisco has owned the iPhone trademark since 2000. In fact, Cisco in December 2006 launched its own line of telephony devices carrying the iPhone brand. Apple then bravely announced its wireless product carrying the same name in January.

Cisco took immediate exception to Apple’s use of its trademark and sued for infringement. “Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco's iPhone name,” said Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel for Cisco. “There is no doubt that Apple's new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission.”

“Today's iPhone is not tomorrow's iPhone. The potential for convergence of the home phone, cell phone, work phone and PC is limitless, which is why it is so important for us to protect our brand,” said Chandler.

Oddly enough, Apple responded to Cisco’s lawsuit by calling it silly. “We think Cisco's trademark lawsuit is silly. There are already several companies using the name iPhone for VOIP products, and we believe that Cisco's US trademark registration is tenuous at best,” said Apple spokesperson Alan Hely.

“We are the first company ever to use the iPhone name for a cell phone, and if Cisco wants to challenge us on it we are very confident we will prevail.”

With the entertaining sound bites out of the way, the two companies will now have another two weeks to sort things out. If the decision ends up in the hands of the court, some believe that Apple and Cisco could both end up using the iPhone name on the basis of its increasing iGeneric nature.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls
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