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Apple and Cisco Make Amends
February 21, 2007
Thomas Mennecke
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"Hi, I'm an Apple iPhone." "And I'm a Cisco iPhone. Hey Apple, I see you're using the same name as I am. Didn't I have the trademark granted to me when I inherited Infogear?"

"Well yes, you sure did. Although the original trademark registered by Infogear dates back to March of 1996, and you already have an established line of Linksys iPhones, we needed the name to go along with our really cool iPhone."

In any case, Cisco Systems was not very pleased when it found out that Apple went ahead and introduced the iPhone as their very own. The two sides had been in negotiations in early January, trying to hammer out a deal that would allow both companies to use the trademark. However, those seemingly well-going negotiations broke down at the 11th hour. According to News.com, negotiations failed over - you guessed it - interoperability between the two systems.

"Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel at Cisco, said in an interview that the companies were close to finalizing a deal Monday night that would have allowed both Cisco and Apple to use the iPhone name," the News.com report reads. "One aspect of the agreement called for some sort of technical interoperability between Cisco's Linksys Internet telephony products and Apple's cell phone."

When Cisco Systems discovered Apple had gone ahead and introduced the iPhone without an agreement in place, Cisco sued the company in Federal Court.

According to the complaint, Cisco alleges that Apple had tried to acquire or obtain the licensing rights to the "iPhone" name as early as 2001. The complaint also alleges that Apple established a "front" company called Ocean Telecom Services, and tried to register the iPhone trademark in Australia in 2006. Although Cisco at first declined Apple's requests, it eventually entered negotiations. However Cisco contends Apple was not permitted to use the trademark until negotiations were completed. But then again, time waits for no one.

A quick search of the United States Trademark database shows that a seven iPhone trademarks were filed by Ocean Telecom Services on January 8, 2007 (including one on September 26, 2006.) One day later, Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, introduced the iPhone to the world. The Trademark office also shows the iPhone trademark granted to Infogear Technology Corporation, filed on March 20, 1996. Very interesting.

So now both companies own the trademark. Despite the failure of January's negotiations, the two sides have resolved their differences and Cisco has dropped the lawsuit. In almost identically worded press releases, both Apple and Cisco announced the cessation of hostilities. It appears the final sticking point - interoperability - will be worked out in due time.

"Cisco® and Apple today announced that they have resolved their dispute involving the "iPhone" trademark. Under the agreement, both companies are free to use the "iPhone" trademark on their products throughout the world. Both companies acknowledge the trademark ownership rights that have been granted, and each side will dismiss any pending actions regarding the trademark. In addition, Cisco and Apple will explore opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security, and consumer and enterprise communications. Other terms of the agreement are confidential."

We say the press releases were almost identical because peculiarly enough, Cisco's press release contains the "®" symbol after their company name, but not Apple. Apple does the exact opposite, and has "®" after "Apple" but not Cisco. Since both sides have already been granted the trademark, it appears there's little point in fighting it out in court. Right or wrong, Apple appears to have pulled off a major coup in its quest for the iPhone trademark.


This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Technology News :: Organizations/Initiatives

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