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Apple, Cisco Settle iPhone Trademark Lawsuit 111

Posted by kdawson
from the you-phone-we-all-phone dept.
A number of readers let us know that Cisco and Apple have settled the lawsuit over the use of the iPhone name for Apple's new multimedia phone. The agreement allows Apple and Cisco both to use the iPhone brand on their own products. Also, the companies said they would explore opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security, consumer and business communications. Apple still faces a suit over the name in Canada and one over its touch-screen technology in the UK.
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Apple, Cisco Settle iPhone Trademark Lawsuit

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:31AM (#18107764)
    ...who were just oh-so-sure that Apple was going to get screwed, and was going to have to change the name, and were delighting in Apple supposedly being inevitably "forced" out of the name by Cisco, apparently not realizing that there was literally no way that iPhone wouldn't ultimately end up being the final name of this product:

    Told you so. :-)
    • by k1e0x (1040314)
      Yep, they all said it.

      Pages and pages of posts on /. saying Apple is "so dumb" for doing this. You would think they would have egg on their face not but.. nahh.. they are "still" right, and man, they are gonna tell us so too, you watch. :-P
    • by Xaoswolf (524554)
      All apple is doing is following the successfull business model that they have seen work in microsoft.

      Steal other peoples stuff and sell it as your own...
      • Really? What was stolen? The product..?
        No, the actual product seems original.

        Oh, you mean the name... I see. But wait, Microsoft never "stole" a name like that, to my knowledge. They have done a lot of other shady things, but never a name. So your statement doesn't make much sense, and that is even IF we decide to go along with you on Apple "stealing" this trademark. Not that I am going along with that, however, as Cisco wasn't even using the trademark for a current product, let alone one in the same
        • What about Windows Defender, Vista, etc.?? http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/247483_msft defender08.html [nwsource.com]
          • Ok, wasn't aware of that, and thanks for the link. Even in that case, however, Microsoft wasn't entirely in the wrong. They weren't nice about it, certainly, but they definitely have the claim to how the Windows trademark was used, and had a valid case. In both cases, the old product in question was discontinued or the brand was no longer being used. In the iPhones case, it was also a very different product.
            I know I'm going to get flack for calling it a very different device, but really look at the feat
        • by Xaoswolf (524554)
          Apple still faces a suit over the name in Canada and one over its touch-screen technology in the UK



          There is a suit in canada about the touch screen.

      • Considering Apple's history of using the i-prefix (iMac, iPod, etc.), it had just as much claim to the name "iPhone" as Cisco ever did, IMHO -- whether Cisco trademarked it or not! (Or, in other words, Cisco should never have been granted the trademark.)

        • by Xaoswolf (524554)
          I wasn't aware that apple owned the letter...
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mrchaotica (681592) *

            Of course Apple doesn't own the letter "i," but it has used "i[Foo]" enough in the past that it's unreasonable to think that another company in the computer/consumer electronics industry could have an exclusive claim to any "i[Foo]" type name. I mean, perhaps you can argue that Apple shouldn't be able to prevent someone else from using such a name (which it's never tried to do anyway), but you can't reasonably argue that someone else should be able to prevent Apple from using that name. I mean, iPhone is j

            • by toddestan (632714)
              But Cisco did have the iPhone in 2000, and that was before most the "iTems" in your list. Besides, Cisco got the iPhone from when they bought Infogear, who was shipping iPhones back in 1997, before even the iMac. I don't follow how Apple should have control over the iPhone trademark just because they also have a bunch of other products that start with the letter i.
  • Canada one? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Fex303 (557896) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:33AM (#18107784)

    Apple still faces a suit over the name in Canada one over its touch-screen technology in the UK.
    Wha? How many Canadas are there now? And what do they have to do with the UK?
  • Cisco? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mfh (56)
    Doesn't Cisco face a possible lawsuit also in Canada over the name?
    • by GundamFan (848341)
      Sure if they haven't already settled, own the Canadian company in question, and or don't sell the Cisco "iPhone" in Canada.

      That would be worth researching... you know if I cared enough not to wait for someone else to update Wikipedia.
  • Apple can win this one in the long term by making the term generic. There is no public confusion over the name, nobody but the most blatant Cisco shill or eBay fraudster would actaully mix up the two products (or 3 if you count the Canadian one).

    After the first (non-3g) model's lifespan is over Apple can safely trademark the "iPhone 3G", "iPhone Nano" and all other variants, protecting their products while allowing the first part of the name to become generic. Once that happens, they could tell Cisco where
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, brilliant idea. Portable digital music makers should do the same thing with the iPod name. After all only a blatant Apple shill would actually mix up the various iPods from different manufacturers. Right?

      Or is trademark theft only cool when Apple does it?

      • by NDPTAL85 (260093)
        Cisco didn't own the trademark to begin with. So what are you talking about?
  • They call that... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rastignac (1014569)
    "Cut the apple into two halves".
  • Come again? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aqua_boy17 (962670) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:04AM (#18108006)

    (sic)and one over its touch-screen technology in the UK.
    Touch screen technology is patented? I support two different brands of laptops that both use touch screens and I'm sure there are others out there. I don't believe they all use the same underylying configuration, but I could be wrong. Does anyone know if this patent only applies to phones, or to mobile devices in general? TFA doesn't really specify.
    • Re:Come again? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dielectric (266217) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:15AM (#18108104)
      Like just about every field today, touch-sensitive tech is a patent minefield. I'd be willing to bet the UK company is Quantum, which has a whole boatload of touch-patents. It could be a patent on the touch sense methods, or a patent on the use of a touch screen on a cell phone, or anything along those lines. Without more info, it's all just speculation of course, but this is Slashdot so I know I'm in good company.
    • Re:Come again? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Andrewm1986 (1013059) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:16AM (#18108112)
      The patent is about using conductivity to sense when a finger is touching the screen. So it is a specific type of touch screen
  • The original (Score:3, Informative)

    by mu51c10rd (187182) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:15AM (#18108100)
    Here is the original iPhone [streettech.com]. Infogear was purchased by Cisco in 2000, hence they inherited the iPhone name. I used to do tech support for these iPhones back in the day so I did feel some nostalgia when the name was revealed for Apple's new product. Infogear iPhone [archive.org]
    • by peragrin (659227)
      No one is saying that Cisco didn't have the iPhone name but trademarks without current products don't last long. In decmember Cisco suddenly announces a generic VOIP phone named iPhone. It had been years since Cisco had used that trademark. Apple had to have been in negotiations with Cisco when that product was released.

      So Cisco finally compromised that they both can use the name. Apple might have thrown them a bone. but the iPhone trademark isn't Cisco's alone.
      • by oohshiny (998054)
        In decmember Cisco suddenly announces a generic VOIP phone named iPhone

        And in January, Apple suddenly announces an iPhone cell phone, and Apple still isn't shipping anything.

        Seems to me whichever way you look at it, Cisco has priority: they were shipping in 2000, they announced a new product before Apple, and they are shipping before Apple.

        I hope Apple got their butt kicked on this deal.
    • by trongey (21550)
      If that thing did DSL I wouldn't mind having one.
  • Total Victory for Apple.

    Apple gets to use the name without compensation and no one will remember Cisco's "IPhone" next year.
    I guess Cisco's trademark must really have lapsed for them to have given up with nothing more than a "promise" to explore interoperability.
    • "Other terms of the agreement are confidential" says the article. We don't know if Apple got this for free, or if they paid $4bn, half their shares and free rides in Steve Jobs' personal Jet for it.
      • , or if they paid $4bn, half their shares

        Actually we know it's not that big because that would *have* to be declared, being just a tad share price sensitive.

        The acid test of "who won" is quite simple: in a year who will ever remember that Cisco once made a product called iPhone?

        • The acid test of "who won" is quite simple: in a year who will ever remember that Cisco once made a product called iPhone?

          Not necessarily. Cisco may have planned for this, and by relabelling one of their products an iPhone, were probably in a better position to get a better settlement. For them the iPhone name was just an easy way to get something out of Apple.
          • One thing they may have wanted from Apple, is for Apple to use Cisco/Linksys wireless technology in their systems. If Apple agreed to this then Cisco gets a lot from the deal. Looks like we will need to keep an eye out to what wireless hardware will be used in upcoming hardware.
            • Cisco doesn't make the hardware components that go into their VoIP devices or anyone else's. They do sell VoIP phones, both in the consumer market as Linksys and in the enterprise market. But really Cisco regards VoIP as just another application that increases demand for their real products, the big-iron infrastructure needed to support it all. Cisco wants to turn the iPhone into an application on top of Cisco's infrastructure. It seems likely that future versions of the iPhone will have VoIP support, so Ci
              • When I mentioned wireless, I was not thinking phones. I was thinking of Apple's Airport range of wireless products. Remember these are all rebranded with the Apple name and packaged in the Apple look. If Cisco could get Apple as a customer for these, then its an extra revenue stream for them - this is worth more than any money Apple would give them in a single settlement.
                • Whaaa? That seems a bit unlikely. Cisco sells directly competing products as Linksys. Yes, they'd make some money by rebranding Linksys products in Apple's name, but they'd make more money if they didn't have to give Apple a share.

                  That being said, this isn't really about the home user market -- that's peanuts to Cisco. Consumer devices have long been a commodity market so they don't get the same profit margins that they do on enterprise and infrastructure equipment. Cisco bought Scientific Atlanta and Links
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by oohshiny (998054)
            That doesn't make sense. Cisco had the iPhone trademark before Apple, and Apple knew that. If Apple didn't want Cisco to be able to make demands on them, Apple could simply have called their phone something else and avoided the whole mess.

            I think Apple provoked the whole dispute for publicity reasons.
            • Apple also likely knew that any claim Cisco had on the trademark would be tenuous, at best. They also have this other product with a "i" prefix - maybe you've heard of it - so perhaps they wanted to associate their new iPhone with the strongly established iPod brand. Do you really think Apple needed to resort to a trademark dispute to drum up interest???
          • by davidm00 (1067270)
            Cisco didn't relabel a product "iPhone", they purchased a company that had a product named "iPhone". Not really a master plan and I'm sure they didn't purchase a VOIP company just to get the name. If they did, settling this means a pretty poorly executed plan. Apple could have easily argued in court that the entire world calls their product iPhone. That would be hard for Cisco to fight since it's very, very true.
            • by e1618978 (598967)
              Actually, they did both. They bought a company, lets its trademarks lapse, then re-labeled an existing product "iPhone" (on the outside of the shrink wrap box, no less) to try and scam money out of Apple.
  • by CubicleView (910143) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:26AM (#18108196) Journal
    Apple has successfully trademarked the letter that comes just after h in the alphabet. Use of sayd letter eys prohybyted and people can face hefty fynes eyf caught do'n so. Onlyne experts recommend people to start dystancyng themselves from g whyle they're at yet.
    • by byolinux (535260) *
      Your slashdot nick is breaking the trademark. Remove your account immediately.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Yvan256 (722131)

      Apple has successfully trademarked the letter that comes just after h in the alphabet. Use of sayd letter eys prohybyted and people can face hefty fynes eyf caught do'n so. Onlyne experts recommend people to start dystancyng themselves from g whyle they're at yet.


      You have been caught usyng sayd letter n your post, ryght before "the alphabet." You now face a hefty fyne.

    • Not my cup of Chaucer, but whatever flyps your swytches.
  • Big deal. (Score:1, Troll)

    by Runefox (905204)
    The phone's still as expensive as a PS3, and half as functional. Since the damned thing is practically one big touch screen, you'd constantly be wiping off the smudges every time you make a call. And, as I've said before, no GSM accessibility around these parts, so it's entirely worthless to me, anyway, though even without that factor, I wouldn't buy one. Hell, you can get a decent laptop for that kind of money, and a laptop is so much more useful than this is.

    Pass.
    • D00d. I think I'm going to patent a screen cleaner for the iPhone to clean the smudgies off. That's the ticket!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by moochfish (822730)
      But the iPhone is less than 1/10th of a PowerEdge 2900 [dell.com] ($7k)! And the PowerEdge doesn't even come with a touch screen!
      But the iPhone is less than 1/100th of a 2007 BMW M5 [yahoo.com] ($80k)! And it's 1000th of the size!
      But the iPhone is less than 1/100000th of No. 5, 1948 [wikipedia.org] ($140M)! And the iPhone can take pictures!

      And finally...

      The iPhone is as expensive as a Boba Fett Blaster Signature Edition Prop Replica [entertainmentearth.com] ($679.99), and 10 times as functional!

      How can you pass??
  • I was SOOOOOO worried that the two multi-billion-dollar corporations might drag on this free ad-fest for the rest of the year. Now we can go back to worrying if Vista users are secure. Huzah!
  • by viking2000 (954894) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:57AM (#18108478)
    Apple boardroom: Let's just call it iPhone, and let it go as it may. Keep blabbing with Cisco so they think we are negotiating. They don't have a case anyway.

    Cisco boardroom: We have to get on the consumer bandwagon, so lets use this trademark to force Apple to help us even if we don't really have a good case. Tell the media that we are almost in agreement.

    Apple boardroom: The blabbing with Cisco resulted in an agreement that basically means nothing. At least they think they have something and have backed off.

    Cisco boardroom: The "explore opportunities" agreement is of course worhtless, but maybe we can fool our stockholders at least that we got a good thing going here.
    • The specific details are confidential. You really think Cisco would have taken the settlement if all it had was Apple's empty promise to explore opportunities? Quite likely, the actual deal covers specific partnerships in the future that neither company wants to get out. I suspect very strongly that it has to do with future VOIP capability in the iPhone, which Cisco wants to ensure will be compatible with their enterprise VOIP equipment. Apple has a big reason not to discuss that publicly, because their cel
  • So rather than a cut of profits, Cisco gets to share the name, eh? Oh yeah, like when you hear "iPhone" later this spring anybody is going to be thinking of Cisco! But at least interoperability with a product that no one is going to buy, namely the Cisco iPhone, should be pretty easy to achieve. Sorry, I'm no Apple fanboy, but in this case, it appears that Apple definitely got the better part of this deal which probably means Cisco's lawyers didn't feel they had a strong case.
  • by mschuyler (197441) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @02:15PM (#18111158) Homepage Journal
    A number of posts here are alluding to Apple's payment of large amounts of money to Cisco. They argue that Apple "lost" because of this large payment of money, in one post up to $4 billion. My question is:

    What money? How much money? How do you know? Where's the evidence?

    Or are you just basing your arguments on idle speculation of what you wish would have happened?
  • by mschuyler (197441) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @03:13PM (#18112012) Homepage Journal
    This is just a theory, a possibility. I don't insist upon it. I'm just trying to fit what we know into the framework without idle speculation that Apple paid money to Cisco, which I doubt. Arguments that they did are based on thin air. We do not know.

    What if Apple used the Tom Sawyer Gambit?

    Apple knows, of course, that Cisco has "the trademark" for iPhone, but it isn't a very good one. Why not? Because Cisco inherited it and did nothing with it. I suspect it was a "TM" trademark, not a "R-circle" trademark. A "TM" trademark is provisional. Once you get it you must demonstrate that you are serious by USING that trademark in INTERSTATE COMMERCE. If you do, then after a certain number of years you get on the coveted "register," (hence "R" with a circle around it.) Once you are on "the register" with your trademark, it's a lot harder to unseat you from owning that mark. But it's a "you use or you lose" proposition. Until you get there, you are vulnerable to losing the mark altogether. Apple knows this, too.

    Apple would also like very much to be completely interoperable with Cisco equipment. Why? Because Cisco dominates the corporate market big time, and has a huge segment of the consumer market with LinkSys. But for one reason or another, Cisco isn't really that interested in Apple. Their focus is elsewhere, though VOIP is big, they just aren't thinking Apple is a potential player here. Apple can strut all it wants, but Cisco is looking the other way thinking Apple is just a toy.

    Hmm, how to get Cisco's attention? Dangle "iPhone" in front of them like a carrot on a stick. "Hey, guys! I got your iPhone. Come chase me!" Big announcement, slap it up there in lights, and Apple runs like hell, but not too fast.

    Bang!

    Cisco bites the Apple, just like Eve, and sues. Publicity for both parties, bad or good, just spell my name right. Apple grins, begins negotiations. You'll notice it never got to court. "Hey, Cisco! You didn't use the mark. Your loss is our gain, but hey. We'll cooperate. How bout if we agree to partner up with you to make sure iPhone is compatible with all your, you know, stuff? We're gonna sell a billion of these things. Wanna be part of it? Oh, and you can keep using the mark, of course, if you have a product to stick it on, (snicker)."

    So here's Apple, like Tom Sawyer, munching on a Red Delicious while his frie..., er, business partners, paint the fence for him.
  • A summary (Score:2, Informative)

    by Swift2001 (874553)
    For those few of you who aren't patent attorneys, which is apparently very rare here, this article is an excellent summary of things.

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=236 [zdnet.com]

    Technically, Cisco had legal control of the name, but in fact, all they did throughout the product cycle was do the bare legal requirements at the last minute, over and over. The fact is, in their filings, they showed the box of an old Skype phone they had brought out a year before, but had not called that. The picture on the cover is a

    • that's pretty good speculation. I would also say, though, that there is a key phrase: "explore opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security, consumer, and enterprise communications." To me that means that cisco also got what it wanted. Access to the consumer market backend through products like the appletv.
  • Finally took them long enough. Smart move on Apple to just settle.

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