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Cisco Sues Apple Over iPhone Trademark 556

lucabrasi999 writes "It appears that Apple may be running out of items that they can prefix with the letter "i". Cisco is suing Apple over trademark infringement. Cisco claims to own the rights to the "iPhone" trademark since they purchased Infogear in 2000. Infogear filed for the rights to the trademark in 1996."
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Cisco Sues Apple Over iPhone Trademark

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  • Trademark info (Score:5, Informative)

    by traindirector ( 1001483 ) * on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:29PM (#17549248)

    The trademark information on the US Patent and Trademark Office's site [uspto.gov]

    I've been curious about this one since yesterday. Apple doesn't seem to have any legal right to the name, but could they really call it anything else?

  • by abscissa ( 136568 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:32PM (#17549294)
    Better to call it "iPhone" and get your ass sued than call it "Zune" and paint it brown and squirt it everywhere.
  • obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:32PM (#17549302) Homepage
    Cisco is suing Apple over trademark infringement.

  • http://www.comwave.net/CDN/iPhone/index.htm [comwave.net]

    The sad thing is that Apple was the reason why everyone started adding i to everything...if I was Jobs I'd just call it the Ipod Phone Edition and tell Cisco to bite it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by winkydink ( 650484 ) *
      Actually, there was a whole dot-com phenomena of putting "i" in front of things too. iDefense Labs is the one that springs immediately to mind as a survivor from that era.
      • by powerlord ( 28156 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:48PM (#17549564) Journal
        Actually, there was a whole dot-com phenomena of putting "i" in front of things too.

        Yes ... which is where we got the iMac, iPod and iTunes. I wonder if Apple can make the case that people already associate the "i*" with THEM, either the 'iPhones' TradeMark should be considered diluted, or it should be assigned to them.
    • by Dynedain ( 141758 ) <slashdot2@@@anthonymclin...com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:47PM (#17549550) Homepage
      The sad thing is that Apple was the reason why everyone started adding i to everything...

      So a trademark aquired in 1996 is because Apple decided to trademark the iMac in 1998? That's some interesting time traveling device that Jobs & Co. has. Where can I get an iTimeMachine?

      But seriously, the dot com boom and rise of general internet awareness sparked a lot of i-names. e-names were more popular initially, but when people couldn't register e-device, the next thing they'd try was i-device. While Apple's uses may be the most memorable (because of success and their incredible ability to get free marketing from every news source on the planet), it wasn't the first and wasn't the trend setter either.

      *** File this myth along side of Apple being the first to have USB or 64bit desktop machines.
    • by puto ( 533470 ) * on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:49PM (#17549588) Homepage
      Actually no,

      I worked for a Chatroom software company that owned a product called ichat. Apple bought the trademark and the name, so they did not come up with it.

      http://forums.appleinsider.com/archive/index.php/t -8722.html

      Even discussed on appleforums.

      The company changed its name to globalchat. Which was then bought by digi-net.com who owns digichat. Ichat was sold as rooms.

      Ichat was WAAAAAAAAAAAAY before apple I'ed anything. 1996

      http://web.archive.org/web/19961106085604/http://w ww.ichat.com/

      The ichat site at apple used to explain this with a link, but have since used the distortion field to take it down.

      If I were jobs, I would come up with a different name.

      • by Bodero ( 136806 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:45PM (#17550966)
        You worked for ichat?

        Boy do I remember that chat software, even back to when Yahoo used it for their chat. All I remember from it are the long list of flaws that I used to exploit for it. Like, downloading the rooms303.exe file from your FTP site and configuring it to connect to another server on port 4071 to create an admin user, and then have full control over the other server.

        Or the other trick of logging in with a telnet client on port 4020 and pasting an ASCII telnet character to automatically load URLs in the other users' client software. This was especially used with the flaws in the HTML client to make people say something, or execute commands, such as /admin add.

        I've always wondered, did you guys know of all the flaws in ichat? The "community" kept it pretty quiet, although I'm sure the big wigs at Yahoo, MTV, townhall and nintendo all knew about them.
  • by alain94040 ( 785132 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:34PM (#17549342) Homepage
    From Cisco's web site yesterday: "SAN JOSE Calif., January 9, 2007 - Given Apple's numerous requests for permission to use Cisco's iPhone trademark over the past several years and our extensive discussions with them recently, it is our belief that with their announcement today, Apple intends to agree to the final document and public statement that were distributed to them last night and that addressed a few remaining items. We expect to receive a signed agreement today."

    I guess someone at Apple didn't sign on the dotted line last night. What could Cisco possibly be asking for that Apple would refuse?


    • by metlin ( 258108 ) * on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:37PM (#17549372) Journal
      The key phrase being, "willing to negotiate" -- for what? Large sums of money would be my guess.

      Don't for a moment believe that a company like Cisco would give in without enormous sums of money changing hands.

      Or maybe they want a percentage of profits? Apple stock? Who knows.
    • Obviously the substance of the negotiations are not public, but if Apple tried to close the deal and Cisco sued them anyways, wouldn't that mean that Cisco was not negotiating in good faith, as they have claimed?
    • by RodgerDodger ( 575834 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:39PM (#17550212)
      A great point. Apple and Cisco probably already have an agreement-in-principle about the use of the trademark, but the paperwork wasn't finalized in time for the conference.

      Given the way that US trademark law works, where you have to actively defend your trademark, Cisco _has_ to sue Apple to show that they are defending their trademark, otherwise anyone would be able to abuse it. However, just because they lodge a lawsuit doesn't mean that they've got an army of trained attack lawyers ready to take Apple down.

      My bet is that it's purely a pro-forma move to defend the trademark, which will get dropped the instant the paperwork for the agreement is done.
  • Did Apple expect this? Are they already planning on cutting Cisco a check (after signifigant sales)? Otherwise, the iPwn3d looks more like a phone I'd rather have in 2007, than the hopped-up StarTacs that are out today.

    I hope everyone uses a bluetooth headset, or the thing will get really nasty.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 )
      Perhaps they figured it'd be cheaper to invalidate the trademark in court than fork over a ton of money forever like they did with the Beatles. It's worked once, and if it bleeds Cisco a few million for fun before they end up changing it to "Apple Phone" - all the better.
  • FTA:

    Cisco said Tuesday it had been negotiating for several years with Apple over a licensing agreement, but that Apple lawyers had not signed and returned the final contract.

    I'd be willing to bet that the product and marketing people thought all was well with rolling it out, and it turns out that "Umm...err...Uh, we didn't sign the contract! Didn't you get the memo?" I think there's going to be some openings in the Apple legal department soon.

  • But C|Net Said... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mr_zorg ( 259994 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:37PM (#17549376)
    ...but C|Net said this yesterday:
    He surprised many by continuing to refer to the new mobile device as the iPhone, a trademark that is owned by Cisco Systems. Apple has apparently been in discussions with Cisco over use of the iPhone trademark for some time, but it is unclear what Apple's use of the name will mean for either company. In a written response to an inquiry from CNET News.com made while Jobs' speech was still going on, a Cisco representative said, "It is our belief that with their announcement today, Apple intends to agree to the final document and public statements that were distributed to them last night." Cisco expects to receive a signed agreement Tuesday, according to the statement.
    So did Apple NOT accept the terms, thinking they can beat this rap, or does the right hand not know what the left hand is doing?
  • Well, it looks like Apple didn't turn in the contract after all.

    So now they have to come up with a new name. I suggest that they keep in line with their new Intel naming and call it the "PhoneBook". They can even make a version with an aluminum case and a built-in keyboard and call it the "PhoneBook Pro".

    Or they could call it the NewtonPhone, but I don't think that's going to happen as long as Steve's body temperature is above 35 degrees C.

  • by Maniakes ( 216039 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:40PM (#17549422) Journal
    You can lose a trademark through dilution if you let it become generic, but what about if you don't use the trademark at all? Even before Apple's announcement, I expect almost anyone hearing the word "iPhone" would associate it much more strongly with Apple than with Cisco.
  • It seems that the Cisco people working with Apple on the trademark resolution upheld thier secret pact of the deal whence other Cisco employees and trademark librarians didn't even know that they were in talks with apple when filing the lawsuit!
  • this? [com.com]

    10:32--Cisco calls CNET News.com reporter with a statement about Apple's use of the term "iPhone" for its new product. "Given Apple's numerous requests for permission to use Cisco's iPhone trademark over the past several years and our extensive discussions with them recently, it is our belief that with their announcement today, Apple intends to agree to the final document and public statements that were distributed to them last night and that address a few remaining items we expect to receive a signed

  • It's OK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by treeves ( 963993 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:51PM (#17549604) Homepage Journal
    They'll change the name, and everybody will still call it the iPhone and know it refers to Apple's phone whenever you hear iPhone, not Cisco. Mission accomplished.
  • by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:51PM (#17549608)
    Call it iCisco. Turnabout is fair play and I doubt they trademarked that specific name.

    In other news the Cisco Kid wants his name back. His legal firm Pancho, Pancho and Pancho are filing papers Monday to block Cisco from using his trademarked name.
  • There was a report that Apple and Cisco were in negotiations over the use of the name until yesterday, so chances are, this is Cisco going "OMG... cash cow ahead, release the legal hounds!". They held out on agreeing to license the name to Apple because they know that they can now sue for millions.

    Anyone know what the Cisco iPhone is? It's a Skype phone. That's it.

    I found this on Cisco's site after searching for "iPhone" on their search engine:

    http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/2007/corp_010907b.h tml [cisco.com]

    "News Rele
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:08PM (#17549810)
    ...until AFTER you sign the deal taking the name, not BEFORE.

    When Apple announced it as the "iPhone", their bargaining position weakened considerably; they haven't quite committed to the name (Apple COULD use a different name), but doing so put Cisco in a stronger position. Which, of course, Cisco realized- you'll note the day of the conference, Cisco was saying that they had faxed over stuff and were waiting for Apple to return the docs. I bet- the agreement probably said "all your cash are belong to us."

    Even if Apple calls it the QRTB-3000, everyone ELSE will continue to refer to it as the iPhone. Apple may be hoping legions of rabid fans will side with them and Cisco will back down from a PR standpoint. Which I hope to hell never happens, because Apple fucked up on this big time. Apple may try to argue that despite Cisco having the trademark, they haven't used it in the ten years they've had it- and Cisco hasn't quashed everyone running around for the last year talking about how Apple would come out with an "iPhone."

    Cisco can hardly argue damages; they have no "iPhone" product from which Apple is causing confusion.

    One thing is for sure- this is going to keep Groklaw busy for the next few months.

  • The first "iphone" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Supertroll ( 210165 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:16PM (#17550640) Homepage
    Back in early 1995 a company called Vocaltec released a program called "Iphone" for Windows 3.1 that allowed PC to PC voice calls. It used EFnet IRC channels for the handshake which pissed off a lot of server administrators because the program couldn't function as a standard IRC client. The only thing an iphone user could do was connect to an IRC server, join #iphone channels and initiate calls with other iphone clients.
  • by oz_paulb ( 617486 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:24PM (#17550736)
    I believe that a trademark holder must vigorously defend their trademark from infringement, otherwise they can lose it.

    It's still possible that Apple/Cisco are in final talks over details of the trademark "iPhone" (both "playing nice"/with the assumption that a final deal will be reached), but the Cisco lawyers are just doing what they are supposed to do - even though they have no intention of suing Apple over it.

    Just a thought.
  • iRouter (Score:3, Funny)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @01:20AM (#17552796)
    Of course, Apple will now trademark the terms "iRouter, iSwitch and iGateway" and will screw Cisco at some later date when Cisco develops their line of "Intelligent Devices"... Though it is Cisco, so it may be a while.
  • by 8127972 ( 73495 ) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:10AM (#17555734)
    1 - Everyone's been expecting an iPhone from apple for years.
    2 - Cisco has owned the iPhone trademark for years.
    3 - Most people obviously didn't know this; Apple probably did.
    4 - Apple ANNOUNCE iPhone as expected. Fanboys faint.
    5 - Apple announce AppleTV and rebrand corporation
    6 - Cisco Sue. Become 'Bad guys'
    7 - Apple RELEASE device as ApplePhone, strengthen branding, please everyone. Except Cisco...
    8 - Profit!

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley