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Cisco sues Apple over iPhone trademark infringement

Posted on Thursday, January 11 2007 @ 02:53:40 CET by

Cisco owns the iPhone trademark and wasn't pleased when Apple presented its iPhone to the world yesterday. The company decided to file a lawsuit against Apple in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for infringing upon and deliberately copying and using Cisco's registered iPhone trademark.

Apple tried to get an agreement from Cisco and the latter one is now furious because Apple publicly showed off their iPhone before they signed an agreement on using the iPhone trademark.

The iPhone trademark was acquired by Cisco in 2000 after completing the acquisition of Infogear, which previously owned the mark and sold iPhone products for several years. Infogear's original filing for the trademark dates to March 20, 1996. Linksys, a division of Cisco, has been shipping a new family of iPhone products since early last year. On Dec. 18, Linksys expanded the iPhone family with additional VoIP products.

"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.

With its lawsuit, Cisco is seeking injunctive relief to prevent Apple from copying Cisco's iPhone trademark.

Update 1 - 15.30: Mark Chandler, Cisco's SVP and General Counsel, published some clarification about this lawsuit on his blog. He says this isn't a suit about money or royalties, it's about trademark infringement. He says Cisco owns the iPhone trademark, they have since 2000 when they acquired Infogear. The registrations from Infogear's iPhone trademark date back to 1996 which is well before Apple started with iMacs, iPods, iTune, ... Cisco says Apple has been approaching them about the iPhone trademark since 2001, the year when Apple announced the first iPod.

Chandler says he was surprised and disappointed when Apple decided to go ahead and announce their Apple iPhone without reaching an agreement:
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. What were the issues at the table that kept us from an agreement? Was it money? No. Was it a royalty on every Apple phone? No. Was it an exchange for Cisco products or services? No.

Fundamentally we wanted an open approach. We hoped our products could interoperate in the future. In our view, the network provides the basis to make this happen—it provides the foundation of innovation that allows converged devices to deliver the services that consumers want. Our goal was to take that to the next level by facilitating collaboration with Apple. And we wanted to make sure to differentiate the brands in a way that could work for both companies and not confuse people, since our products combine both web access and voice telephony. That’s it. Openness and clarity.


Use Disqus to post new comments, the old comments are listed below.

Re: Cisco sues Apple over iPhone trademark infringement
by Anonymous on Thursday, January 11 2007 @ 04:46:38 CET
This was to be expected. Not really nice from Apple.

  • Reply by Anonymous on Thursday, January 11 2007 @ 09:02:57 CET

    Apple fan boys will be up in arms, ooh dont call apple they are great. NOT!

    What did steve jobs say about companies copying them? Start your photocopiers? Look who is copying now.

    What a bunch of chopper's

    • Reply by Anonymous on Thursday, January 11 2007 @ 09:45:39 CET

      Idiots - and u think Cisco did not think about the iPhone/apple connection before they registered the name?

      IF apple at a time would make a phone, that was the perfect name for them due to all their iWhatever...

      Cisco was thinking ahead.... Apple was slow...

      Does Cisco/linksys have any other products with iName ?

Re: Cisco sues Apple over iPhone trademark infringement
by Anonymous on Thursday, January 11 2007 @ 10:51:18 CET
For the other commenter: I wouldn't be too sure of that. Cisco got this name in 2000 because they took over another company. When did Apple launch their iPod? In 2001. The Infogear iPhone was launched in 1997.

AFAIK Apple didn't have a lot of "i" products back in 2000, besides the iMac and iBook.

So what are the chances that Cisco acquired a company so that maybe many years later they could screw Apple if the latter decided to launch a phone under the iPhone trademark? Pretty small I suppose.

iPhone trademark exists since 1997, acquired by Cisco in 2000, Appple launched iPod in 2001, Apple announced iPhone in 2007 and knew that Cisco has the registered trademark => Apple is the bad guy.

Talks that Cisco registered this trademark (they didn't, they got in from taking over another company) to screw Apple someday are bullshit if you ask me.

Re: Cisco sues Apple over iPhone trademark infringement
by Anonymous on Thursday, January 11 2007 @ 13:59:27 CET
Cisco doesn't really have a choice.

The law says you must protect your trademarks, otherwise you lose them.


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