Battle for iPhone … Cisco Sues Apple


We were only just talking about the awkwardly worded press statement by Cisco Systems about the iPhone brand and its possible offer to Apple. It seems like that conversation (or offer) did not go anywhere, and now Cisco is suing Apple for infringing on its brand name. Cisco lawyers weigh in on the issue as well.

“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, 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,” Chandler concluded.

Add this lawsuit to the list of all the questions, troubles and doubts about the Apple Phone that have cropped up in last 24 hours. I am trying to put it all together, but frankly even I am getting the iPhone fatigue.

Meanwhile guys, any name suggestions for Apple and their “phone?”

Hat tip: Cisco news team for leaving the comment, and giving us an early heads up.



The intent of a Trademark is to keep one company from capitalizing on another companies established brand name. iPhone is immediately associated with Apple.

Put iPhone into Google. What’s the first hit?
Argument solved.

In this interpretation, Cisco is in Trademark violation.

Bob Johnson

Of course Cisco sues. It’s not a question of right and wrong. It’s a question of money, either they’ll settle for the money, or Cisco sues them for the money.

Call it what you want, but “being friendly” is just dumb when Apple is literally giving away money.

Michael Boone

I do like MacPhone, but what about just calling it iPod Phone, it would be just like iPod Nano or iPod Shuffle, just iPod Phone.


True Mike, and wonderful Prashanth. Compare the two sites for iphone and apple tv and notice the logo. Why does the iPhone have the Apple logo before its name? Isn’t it similar to the Apple TV? Should it be called Apple iPhone, or was the logo put there for testing and it looked cool? The iPod logo does not have Apple in front of it. Is it easier to call it an Apple Phone rather than Apple iPhone?

And btw everything is CompanyName ThingName nowadays, take Google Search, Google Mail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google Whatever, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Search, Windows Live Thing, or Microsoft Things, Yahoo! Things. It would very much make sense for Apple to make the move, that is why Computers was taken out of their company name, so that they would not have two words like the confusion of Windows Live Thing.


Brilliant comment, Prashanth. It explains the choice of Apple TV over iTV and Apple’s apparent sloppiness around the iPhone mark. Apple is many things, but sloppy about a product launch is not one of them.

The iPod is still cool but the ubiquity of iEverythingElse has cheapened the brand. Time to move on to appleThings.


You know, that’s almost twisted enough to work. And you know what would be even more twisted? If Cisco was a willing partipant in this little dance. Say the “settlement” is some really good deal down the road for playing the bad guy (“See, we made up and are now working together”).

I guess it’s time to push back from the computer now :^)

Prashanth Pappu

Could it be that Apple is effecting the smartest brand transition ever (from “i” to apple?) for all its consumer products? Because the more devices they make, the harder it will be to name them “iThings” and a better strategy would be to name them “appleThings”.

And look at what Apple did in the Mac show –

  1. They dropped the name computer from their company name (apple computer is simply apple now)

  2. They already called their iTV as appleTV and Jobs made a joke about mixing up the names in the presentation.

  3. They might actually be using the public, lawsuit with cisco to market this transition for their phone specifically and al their prducts in general. Apple would willingly comply later, blame cisco and name its phone – apple phone!

But the publicity and the buzz would create the perfect transiton for apple too! People themselves would joke about both iPhone and applePhone (like Jobs himself did with iTV/appleTV) until they start calling things simply appleThings. Wicked.


I have to disagree with you karmel. If calling this thing iPod mobile makes it just another iPod, then calling it MacPhone makes it just another Mac. No more of an advantage either way. And since Jobs stated this thing is the best iPod they’ve ever built, I’d stick with with the iPod line of naming.

In reality though, it is equal part iPod and Mac. Perhaps naming it MacPod would be the way to go.


Didn’t Apple recently try to stop companies from using the term “podcast,” essentially arguing that it infringed upon the “iPod” copyright?

Seriously, you can’t have it both ways, and Apple has VERY aggressively defended its own copyrights.

Apple’s going to lose. Cisco is most definitely in the right.


i agree with alex, it should be called MacPhone, like MacBook. MacPhone Pro comes with 3G.

iPod mobile would be just another iPod, wouldn’t come with a boost and a new name. everybody knows what an iPod is, but not everyone has heard of a MacBook. the name MacPhone might even raise the sales for the MacBook.

Cisco will sue Apple and they won’t be on good terms, they would still have to change the name of their iPhone.

Jacob Varghese

iPod mobile makes the most sense

iPod shuffle,
iPod nano,
iPod video,
and the new iPod mobile

They need to leverage their most successful brand – iPod.

All their computers have Mac in the name now.
It seems like they will probably use Apple in the name of all their home media devices.
The iPod branding should be used for all their portable devices.

Richard Harrison

Wouldn’t the fact that Average Joe now associates iPhone with Apple make a damages claim even larger for Cisco?

Actually if you think about it Apple does have a legitimate claim on the name. Ask anyone in the street about the name iPhone. The answer will be 100% = Apple<<

Don Smith

Cisco knows nothing about branding, but the got one name right. Everything has a price. What do you think Cisco want for the name?


To someone who posted about iRobot – that is a real company. Check it out for yourself at

AS for iPhone, as much as I think iPhone is a perfectly fine name for Apple’s mobile phone, they cannot just “steal” Cisco’s copyright/trademark.

How would Apple feel if SanDisk and Creative Labs called their music players iPods???


okay who remembers the Cisco iPhone? I do, thanks to the prank that GIzmodo did? Who cares! Apple did what it did and was very smart about it.

What ever they call the Apple phone later wont matter and Cisco’s iphone will be long gone and dead by June.

Actually if you think about it Apple does have a legitimate claim on the name. Ask anyone in the street about the name iPhone. The answer will be 100% = Apple.

Maybe Cisco was taking advantage of Apple’s good marketing capital and name recognition to get their crappy VOIP out. The timing of Ciscos iPhone launch is suspicious as they knew that something big was happening at Apple.

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