It turns out that Cisco Systems got the iPhone trademark in 2000 after it had bought Infogear who had filed the trademark as long ago as March 20th 1996. Linksys, a Cisco-owned brand have been selling products with the iPhone name for over a year and expanded the iPhone family on December 18th with additional products.
Although Apple have been in negotioations with Cisco to license the name for over two years it seems that negotations have now been broken off. With its lawsuit, Cisco is seeking injunctive relief to prevent Apple from copying Cisco's iPhone trademark.
Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel, Cisco had this to say, "Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco's iPhone name. 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."
While the Lynksys iPhones are VoIP phones, Apple seem to be of the opinion that since their own iPhone is actually a cell phone it is sufficiently different to cause no confusion in the eyes of the public. Common sense dictates that the Apple iPhone is going to have a massive profile and may attain iconic status like the iPod but whether it will be able to retain its name remains to be seen.
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