Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cisco And Apple Are Still Negotiating Over iPhone Trademark

If you are waiting to find out who will win the iPhone trademark then today it’s not your lucky day, because Cisco Systems said it agreed to give Apple more time to respond to the lawsuit it filed over the "iPhone" trademark, extending negotiations until February 21.

"Cisco has agreed to give Apple an extension until Wednesday, February 21," Cisco said in a statement. "Cisco is fully committed to using the extra time to reach a mutually beneficial resolution."

This is the second time this month when Apple and Cisco had agreed to extend the time that Apple would have in which to respond to Cisco's lawsuit regarding the iPhone trademark.

In January, just a day after the astonishing unveil of iPhone during the keynote of Steve Jobs at MacWorld 2007, Cisco announced that it has filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California against Apple, seeking to prevent Apple from infringing upon and deliberately copying and using Cisco’s registered iPhone trademark.

Cisco obtained the iPhone trademark 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 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.

As Mark Chandler has said in his blog, money was not at the center of the negotiations between the two companies for the use of the iPhone trademark, but something else, much more important than some amount of money, even if bearing an endless number of zeros.

“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. “, said Chandler on his blog.

As a response to Cisco’s claims, Apple argued that it’s entitled to use the name iPhone because the products are materially different. Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said in January that Cisco's lawsuit is "silly" and se pointed out that there are already several other companies using the name iPhone for products like Cisco's that use the increasingly popular Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.

As you would expect, the Cisco Apple’s trademark drama is not in court yet and negotiations have been resumed. It’s highly unlikely though that the two companies will not reach an agreement.


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