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Cisco Lost Rights to iPhone Trademark Last Year? 162

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the use-it-or-lose-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An investigation into the ongoing trademark dispute between Cisco and Apple over the name "iPhone" appears to show that Cisco does not own the mark as claimed in their recent lawsuit. This is based on publicly available information from the US Patent and Trademark office, as well as public reviews of Cisco products over the past year. The trademark was apparently abandoned in late 2005/early 2006 because Cisco was not using it."
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Cisco Lost Rights to iPhone Trademark Last Year?

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  • In Europe too! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Megane (129182) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @11:20AM (#17591020) Homepage

    Cisco on brink of losing iPhone name in Europe [theregister.co.uk]

    I had to read TFA twice just to be sure that it was actually about the trademark in the US, not Europe.

    This is definitely turning out to be a crazy situation. I agree with TFA that this is probably why Apple didn't sign the contract with Cisco after all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @11:40AM (#17591238)
    I am pretty sure this means jack. Anybody claiming the use of a trademark receives protection with or without registration. Registration just gets you immediate action in the courts preventing apple from selling anything without hearing from apple. It also gives you the right to put TM next to the logo. If they were using it and had obvious intentions to reuse it then they are likely safe in the trademark and the registration, no matter what reason they are reusing it. The Europe one is more interesting as they have protocols to fight trademarks, but here it doesn't matter.

    That is one reason why trademark squatting can somewhat work here such as that guy who owns 'stealth'. Paying is usually easier than fighting over here, and trying to get a judge to overturn a trademark may be impossible no matter how bad the situation.
  • Re:USPTO website (Score:5, Informative)

    by wes33 (698200) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:00PM (#17591452)
    TFA goes into and explains why it still shows as 'live' - this is a legal issue not a simple "is it in the registry" issue.
  • Re:USPTO website (Score:2, Informative)

    by Shabbs (11692) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:13PM (#17591600)
    That's because Cisco did apply in time according to the rules, but the question remains if they were actually actively using the Trademark or not. Apple will try to show that they did not have a single product out called the iPhone and thus, the application should be nullified. If it is, next in line gets it, and it looks to be a front company for Apple. Surprise, surprise.

    Cheers.
  • Re:I dunno... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:14PM (#17591608)
    Laws should be applied equally to all, regardless of who it is. Politicians. Cops. Firemen. Doctors. Corporations. Blacks. Whites. etc.

    The trademark laws are fair here. Sticking a label onto shrinkwrap is not a) showing use for the past 5 years CONTINUOUSLY as the law requires, b) shows any evidence this was "use" of a trademark. Use being something the public saw when purchasing the product; they didn't.

    Indeed, it seems misleading, even fraudulent, what Cisco did; they pretended that this was evidence of continuous use, public use? Please. I never heard of iphone until December and I've been looking at VOIP gear off and on for the past 6 months.

    Fanboys? Sure. I used to be a Mac fanboy, back in the 68k and early PPC days. No longer. I (horrible, I know) like XP more than I like MacOS, although I dislike MS more than Apple. I have no plans to buy the crippled Apple phone/iphone either, unless Cingular has some whopping cheap plans (like $60 a month for 1000+ minutes and unlimited EDGE).
  • by MeanderingMind (884641) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:21PM (#17591702) Homepage Journal
    Cisco is registered for the trademark, that much is certain.

    The issue here is whether or not their registration can be revoked due to failure to use the trademark. The article mentions that a registered trademark should be in continual use throughout the registration. As Cisco had no "iPhone" product until late in the grace period there seems to be a good case for the registration to be revoked.

    Now, as you say they may still be protected, but this opens the door still for Apple to register the trademark. I can hardly think that Cisco will be able to defend a trademark that was revoked against someone else who holds the registration.
  • Featured iPhone (Score:3, Informative)

    by trofer (986393) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:50PM (#17592028)

    iPhone is now a featured product [cisco.com] on Cisco's Website. I don't know if it was there before the iPhone was announced or before this trademark non-usage news came out, but surely it's related with Apple's iPhone.

  • Re:I dunno... (Score:5, Informative)

    by NormalVisual (565491) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:52PM (#17592052)
    The problem is that the product that bore the "iPhone" label in the declaration (Linksys CIT200) hadn't ever been associated with that name, so it seems to me that the sticker was an attempt to pull a fast one on the USPTO by representing the trademark as being actively used when in fact it wasn't and hadn't been for six years. The CIT200 was finally rebranded "iPhone" last month, but that was seven months after the declaration was filed and more than a year after the declaration had originally been due, and almost certainly after Cisco was aware of Apple's intentions.

    IMHO Cisco fumbled badly, and they're desperately trying to recover.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:37PM (#17592604) Homepage

    This is just some bloggers, not a legal opinion, even if it's from a lawyer.

    Here's a demonstration that Cisco was continuously using the trademark: the support web site for the iPhone [archive.org], as archived at archive.org. "With InfoGear recently being acquired by Cisco Systems, there is currently no change to your iPhone coverage. We hope you continue to enjoy using your iPhone, and we thank you for your business. So, even if Cisco wasn't selling new units, they were still supporting the old ones. That page has been archived every year since 2000, so that's a form of continuous use.

    There's an active user base. The University of Florida went iPhone [ufl.edu]. There's a description of their configuration here. [ufl.edu] They have a VoIP infrastructure with three Cisco CallManagers, two Cisco 6608 VoIP gateways, a Cisco Unity voice mail system, and many Cisco IP telephones, some of which are iPhone units, on desktops. The University of Pennsylvania also went iPhone. [upenn.edu] There are probably corporate installations too, but they tend not to publish their phone instructions on the public web. Those installations have to be supported, which is something Cisco does, and gets paid for. Cisco is in the network infrastructure business, after all.

    As long as there's support, and support-related revenue, the trademark is clearly in use.

  • TM vs. R (Score:4, Informative)

    by jpellino (202698) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:51PM (#17592776)
    In fact, in the UIS at least you can use "TM" from when you begin the claim, you can use "R" once it's actually registered.

  • by palmer64s (1049988) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:24PM (#17593194)
    Nope. A trademark by definition indicates source of origin. Support does not count, because no product or service is being originated by the company under the trademark. This is especially true in this case, since the iPhone was actually produced by another company, InfoGear. Cisco has apparently never produced an iPhone during the period in which they registered that trademark.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:52PM (#17593558)
    Support is not use, in trademark terms. Existence of a support website (that says InfoGear was recently acquired by Cisco) does not support a claim of use of a trademark. It might support a claim of use of a service mark.

    University of Florida [ufl.edu] refers to an IPhone service (note the capitalization), not an iPhone product. In fact, most of the time Florida refers to its VoIP service as I-Phone (note the capitalization and dash):

    I-Phone is a new solutions-offering presented by OIT-Telecom that takes advantage of the convergence of voice and data networks.
    The I-Phone service is part of the "services-to-wallplate" model that is offered by OIT-Network Services and is designed to ultimately provide an enterprise communications solution for the University of Florida.


    University of Pennsylvania [upenn.edu] refers to a web-based service called My iPhone (alternatively referred to as Penn iPhone):

    My iPhone is a web service that allows you to manage certain telephone features and voice mail options from a web browser.

    Neither University is using a product called iPhone (except legacy units purchased 5+ years ago). They are both using a service they refer to as, in the case of Florida, I-Phone (VoIP) and, in the case of Pennsylvania, My iPhone (web manager).

    Cisco's disuse of the mark in trade for a period of five plus years hurts their case considerably. A support web page that has not changed in five plus years offering service with respect to the mark may help a bit, but not much.

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