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Summary:

Who owns the iPhone?  That’s the big question since Apple announced the iPhone and Cisco followed with the lawsuit over the trademarked name.  Cisco picked up the trademark when they acquired Infogear Technology in 2000 and have been shipping a VoIP phone under the name iPhone […]

Who owns the iPhone?  That’s the big question since Apple announced the iPhone and Cisco followed with the lawsuit over the trademarked name.  Cisco picked up the trademark when they acquired Infogear Technology in 2000 and have been shipping a VoIP phone under the name iPhone for some time.  Cisco has a blog and are posting their side of the dispute which I find very interesting:

Cisco owns the iPhone trademark. We have since 2000, when we bought a company called Infogear Technology, which had developed a product that combined web access and telephone. Infogear’s registrations for the mark date to 1996, before iMacs and iPods were even glimmers in Apple’s eye. We shipped and/or supported that iPhone product for years. We have been shipping new, updated iPhone products since last spring, and had a formal launch late last year. Apple knows this; they approached us about the iPhone trademark as far back as 2001, and have approached us several times over the past year.

For the last few weeks, we have been in serious discussions with Apple over how the two companies could work together and share the iPhone trademark. We genuinely believed that we were going to be able to reach an agreement and Apple’s communications with us suggested they supported that goal. We negotiated in good faith with every intention to reach a reasonable agreement with Apple by which we would share the iPhone brand.

So, I was surprised and disappointed when Apple decided to go ahead and announce their new product with our trademarked name without reaching an agreement. It was essentially the equivalent of “we’re too busy.” Despite being very close to an agreement, we had no substantive communication from Apple after 8pm Monday, including after their launch, when we made clear we expected closure.

And in another post:

Apple approached Cisco many times over the past five years to acquire rights to use the iPhone trademark, acknowledging Cisco’s rights to the trademark. We had extensive discussions with them up until monday night at 8:00 p.m. with the goal of reaching an agreement.

Of course we now know that the next morning Steve Jobs announced Apple’s new iPhone to the surprise of Cisco and many in the press who had previously noted the Cisco trademark.  I find it amusing that Apple enthusiasts are clamoring for proof that Cisco protected this trademark, some even stating that since the iPhone name fits Apple’s product better they should have the right to use it.  What does that have to do with it?

It seems to me that Apple is getting what they deserve.  How many products and companies has Apple bullied into oblivion for using the word "pod" in their name?  Remember how they threatened people who used the word "podcast" with cease and desist letters?  Even Houston’s own Russell Holliman, founder of Podcast Ready, got a cease and desist to quit using the word "pod" in that name.  Give me a break!  This is either the height of arrogance on Apple’s part to try and exclude the use of "pod" by anyone but Apple or it’s a misguided attempt to overzealously protect their trademark.  So why should Cisco be any different?  I do hope that Cisco prevails with this and Apple has to pay through the nose to keep the name iPhone.  Or change the name to something like iWantTheNameButCantHaveIt.

  1. Apple Inc. could recycle a previous gambit used against Apple Records and call the phone “Sosumi”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sosumi.

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  2. OSX can’t run on an ARM processor and the Darwin code forbids closed OS variants, just messy details selling iPhone actually do. When pigs fly.

    Expect reading between lines standard filter essential for Apple sales assualts.

    Unbridled promise and “reality distortion field” already coined a decade ago as term for the syndrome will only expand yet further enboldened by wider public acceptance intoxicated by glitz. Windows users, you’re fresh meat.

    Shamefully, even tech-saavy tablet luminaries now perpetuate iPhone’s leap-of-faith, illogical convergence crowning, sophmoric myth-building unsuitable for supposedly high-level forums and blogs audience.

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  3. Agree James.

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  4. Tablet PC User Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    The saddest part (as you stated) is that the iFans are actually trying to justify why the iPhone name should belong to Apple! What kind of people do we have living among us when they justify outright stealing because it suits someone needs? Is apple suddenly above the law and constitution that has been our foundation for so many centuries?

    It seems that if Steve Jobs had to be a leader of a country, we can expect dictatorship and totalitarianism beyond Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein or Castro!

    I had zero respect for apple fans, but this just takes it into the negative numbers.

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  5. From all appearances Cisco has been “squatting” on the trademark and using it mostly to try and manipulate Apple.

    That iPhone sticker on their last minute of the grace period trademark paperwork was more than a bit lame for a company as large as Cisco.

    And frankly the only reason the trademark is worth fighting over it because of Apple’s efforts with promoting IThis and iThat, not because of any effort on Cisco’s part with the iPhone trademark.

    I don’t think their law suit is going to play out the way Cisco is hoping.

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  6. The BBC coined the new name; iGroan. Its fits perfectly with Apple’s image as a company that always leaves me with a bad taste in my the mouth. Their devices are great (I have never bought one mind)but there is “something of the night” about Apple that I just cannot put my finger on.

    I am not lawyer or American so I cannot comment on how Cisco’s claims might play out in court but I am worried about patent “squatting” that Apple appear to use to stifle development of competing technologies. This is bad for the industry and ultimately for the consumer.

    To me Apple’s creativity seems to extend out to all areas of the company. Their lawyers who are always innovating to protect or enhance the company’s position.

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  7. Doesn’t matter if Cisco was sqautting on the name or not, they own it. I had heard about the iPhone before Apple’s big announcement and thought that was one Apple would never get.

    It’d be nice if Cisco were treated fairly as this plays out. Companies are allowed to own whatever they want until the expiration date and use (or not use) them as they see fit.

    Doesn’t matter if it sits on a shelf gathering dust, they still own it.

    What I think will happen is Apple is trying to force Cisco’s hand by creating negative PR against them. As Scott said above, people will think it is Cisco being unfair because they won’t let their beloved Apple use the name and will buy the line about Cisco “sitting” on it just to get money out of Apple.

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  8. Tablet PC User Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    @ Scotty

    Don’t quit your day-job – legal issues isn’t your thing!

    Cisco has all rights to the iPhone trademark, it was renewed in 2006 at the appropriate time. http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=75076573

    Do you think that Cisco will go to court without concrete evidence to win their case? Do you think this is the OJ Simpson / Michael Jackson trial we’re dealing with?!?!

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  9. You’re a little behind the news here. Suggest you take a look at this analysis of Cisco’s “renewal” of their trademark; see the picture Scotty refers to and decide for yourself: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=236
    As has been noted, Apple’s lawyers know their business (especially when they’re giving the business to everyone else!) and probably feel pretty comfortable on this one. Still not 100%, but then, that’s what judges are for.
    I actually think a lot of “MacFans” would be happy for something other than an “i*” name; it’s getting a bit old. And, the iPhone is so much more than a phone, why give it such a narrowly-defined name?

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  10. Tablet PC User Tuesday, January 16, 2007

    What does a sticker have to do with anything? I’ve purchased products with stickers that have updated specifications/prices on them. The last thing that goes through my mind is that the person is trying to cheat the system!

    Ed Burnette is NOT a legal professional! Can’t you see that Apple hasn’t stated why/if they are right? Almost all of the pro-apple comments are coming from the non-legal iFans! Don’t assuming that having a legal team = success (unless you believe that everything that is associated with apple will “just work”).

    Until this is settled in a court, let us all just stop speculating and grasping at straws! If apple had any innovation, they would use a different name for the stupid device and move on!

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