Cisco's iPhone lawsuit is 'silly', says Apple
(Total Telecom Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Cisco's announcement that it plans to sue Apple Inc. over the use of the iPhone brand name made it clear that Apple launched its much-anticipated iPod handset without sorting out the trademark issue first.
But in typical gung-ho style, a spokesman for Apple described the lawsuit as "silly", and said Cisco's trademark registration was "tenuous at best".
"There are already several companies using the name iPhone for VoIP products," Apple spokesman Alan Hely told Total Telecom.
"We are the first company to ever use the iPhone name for a cell phone, and if Cisco wants to challenge us on it we are very confident we will prevail," Hely added.
Earlier, Cisco said it has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Apple Inc., "seeking to prevent Apple from infringing upon and deliberately copying and using Cisco's registered iPhone trademark".
The U.S. networking equipment manufacturer said it had been in talks with Apple over the brand name and had expected an agreement to be reached before Apple went ahead with the launch of its iPod-based mobile phone under the iPhone brand.
"I was surprised and disappointed when Apple decided to go ahead and announce their new product with our trademarked name without reaching an agreement," wrote Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel, on a blog on Cisco's Web site. "It was essentially the equivalent of 'we're too busy.'"
"There is no doubt that Apple's new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission," Chandler added.
From remarks made by Chandler on the Cisco blog, it's clear that the company had hoped for some cooperation with Apple that would have enabled both companies to make use of the iPhone brand through some form of collaboration:
"Fundamentally we wanted an open approach," Chandler said. "We hoped our products could interoperate in the future."
Chandler added: "If the tables were turned, do you think Apple would allow someone to blatantly infringe on their rights? How would Apple react if someone launched a product called iPod but claimed it was ok to use the name because it used a different video format?"
Cisco said it gained the iPhone trademark in 2000 through the acquisition of Infogear, which originally filed for the trademark on 20 March 1996. The company is now selling iPhone products via its Linksys subsidiary.
iPhone vs iPhone
Cisco iPhones are sold under its Linksys subsidiary, whose products are targeted more at the home user than at large enterprises or telcos. They typically support VoIP clients such as Skype and IM clients such as Yahoo Messenger.
The phones are cordless handsets for use in the home that can enable users to make phone calls either via their broadband network or via the standard telephone line. Linksys also offers a range of WiFi-based iPhones that allow users to make calls over broadband networks without the need for a PC interface.
The Apple iPhone, meanwhile, is the new mobile handset launched by the consumer electronics giant this week at Macworld. The phone includes an iPod, of course.
To say the Apple iPhone has generated a lot of interest is a huge understatement: scenes of near-hysteria were described at Macworld, and since then there have been thousands of reports generated on subjects from the phone's extortionate price to the limitations of touchscreens in general.
The phone will be available in the U.S. via Cingular in the middle of this year, with a European launch planned for late 2007. The phone does not support 3G as yet, but no doubt that is in Apple's immediate sights. The current iPhone supports four variants of GSM frequencies plus EDGE, WiFi and Bluetooth.
Copyright 2007 Terrapinn Ltd