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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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  • by blueZhift (652272) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @10:17AM (#17590992) Homepage Journal
    Hmmm, this reminds me of those stories that come up from time to time about some big corporation forgetting to renew their domain names. If the outcome of the trademark dispute comes down to this, it will argue strongly for paying attention to the little details. In any case, you can bet corporate lawyers all over the U.S. are going to be checking their trademark papers this weekend!
  • by kripkenstein (913150) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @10:49AM (#17591350) Homepage
    Hmmm, this reminds me of those stories that come up from time to time about some big corporation forgetting to renew their domain names. If the outcome of the trademark dispute comes down to this, it will argue strongly for paying attention to the little details.

    Not at all. If TFA is right, this has nothing to do with 'little details'. The big details are that Cisco had no product called 'iPhone' for years, and recently just stuck a sticker on a picture of an existing product, rebranding it 'iPhone', when renewing the trademark, when no such branding existed in the real world.
  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Saturday January 13, 2007 @11:12AM (#17591590) Journal
    To successfully defend a trademark, you have to show you've been consistently using it for years. Cisco couldn't do that - they had to stick a sticker on the outside of a shrink-wrap of another package. Do you not think if they actually *had* a product called the iPhone, they'd have taken a photo of that ?

    Score one for the fruit company...

    Simon.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @11:56AM (#17592084) Journal
    Cisco regiters trademark.

    Cisco files Delcaration of Use, with "under penalty of perjury" affidavit stating they are using the name.

    Now it sounds like everything will hinge on the following:
    AT a former FA:
    2001 - 2006: Cisco continues servicing and providing technical support for the iPhone

    So internal documentation may/probably shows continuous use of iPhone in regards to the support of an existing product.

    Either

    (A) the trademark is shown to be valid, as internal documents support the continued use of the trademark for support purposes OR
    (B) they don't have the documentation, or it is deemed invalid, in which case whomever signed the extension is clearly guilty of perjury and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    In my opinion, you can't have it both ways - the tradmark is valid and the signer is ok, or the trademark is invalid and the signer goes to jail. There is no middle ground.

    Now, in other thoughts on the matter:

          (1) If the trademark is up for grabs, and Cisco has an iPhone product on the market which pre-dates the Apple cellular product, don't they still have "dibs" on the name? Can't they re-file for the trademark, and presumably be first in line because of an actual shipping product?

          (2) Can Chevy come out with their new "Fairlane" model next year, since Ford clearly is not producing a Fairlane and haven't for more than 7 years? If Ford claims to keep it by offering parts and service for the Fairlane, wouldn't that bolster the case For Cisco, which has supported "their" iPhone product with (at least) service for the last 6 years?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:14PM (#17592320)
    Lawyers are hired guns, but they are not the gunmen, their clients are. When someone walks into a lawyer's office with a complaint (or brings one to the lawyers on staff, if it's a big company), they will look to see if there is ANY amount of legal merit and, if so, begin to work on the case. Their job isn't to filter cases by how ridiculous they are, it's to filter cases without any legal merit. If you were Cisco, wouldn't you at least TRY to save your trademark? I think so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @12:25PM (#17592446)
    On the iPhone product page there's a link that leads to amazon.com.
    The "Linksys WIP320 Linksys Wireless-G Skype iPhone" has two pictures. One full frontal picture and one in perspective. The full frontal one has iPhone in the middle but the perspective doesn't.
    Probably because it was too hard for them to put the iphone logo on that one.
  • It's the proverbial "too little, too late." They released the iPhone only a month or so before they knew Apple was planning on announcing their iPhone, and didn't even do a good job about it (ie, stickers reading "iPhone" on existing product packaging).

    The trademark was registered in 1999, and they only just started using it. Anyone with common sense can see it's because they knew Apple wanted it, and they thought they could squeeze a bit of cash out of them. Let's hope (for Apple's sake) that the judge has a little common sense. ;)

    Disclaimer: yes, I'm a Mac user, but you have to admit that it certainly seems like Cisco's actions in all of this are just attempts to underhandedly get some money from Apple. Not that Apple's announcement of the iPhone wasn't somewhat underhanded... but hey, fight fire with fire.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 13, 2007 @01:08PM (#17592990)
    Supporting a product that is not being sold is not a form of use with trademarks. Use is actually selling (or trading) a product with that mark. Cisco made a conscious decision not to continue using the iPhone trademark it bought by buying InfoGear (who actually used the trademark up until 2000). My guess is Cisco did not want to be associated with the "playfulness" of the "i" prefix. Apple has, after all, generally used it for consumer products (not the serious business market Cisco is after) and its seminal and most-famous use is in naming a computer called cute: the iMac.

    It is readily apparent Cisco only re-started use of the mark after 5 years (late last month) in order to confound good faith negotiations by Apple over the unused branding mark. Apple is correct to pursue the de-registration of this disused mark.

    You are mistaken to believe supporting a product with a certain mark constitutes "use" of that mark in the trademark sense.
  • by thefinite (563510) on Saturday January 13, 2007 @02:11PM (#17593760)
    (1) If the trademark is up for grabs, and Cisco has an iPhone product on the market which pre-dates the Apple cellular product, don't they still have "dibs" on the name? Can't they re-file for the trademark, and presumably be first in line because of an actual shipping product?

    You are confusing this a bit with Patent and/or Copyright. A registered trademark gives you the assumption that the mark is properly yours and trumps all other marks. Without a registered trademark, you have to *prove* to a court that the mark is an indicator of your company being the source rather than another company. This is referred to as a common-law trademark. Cisco would have a very difficult time proving to a court that when people hear iPhone, they are more likely to think of Cisco. First-in-time might be part of a court's consideration, but the facts that Apple has a family of iBrands, that people were talking about Apple's iPhone long before Cisco released theirs (the December 06 one, that is), and that by lapsing the registered mark Cisco showed they weren't using the name would all weigh heavily in Apple's favor.

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