Cisco sues Apple over iPhone trademarkJanuary 11, 2007

Apple, the company that dominates the digital music player market with the iPod, announced this week at the annual MacWorld show in San Francisco that Apple will be entering another lucrative consumer electronics market: the mobile phone. Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced his company's newest offering: the iPhone. Apple's stock increased 10% just from the announcement of the iPhone, although they will not go on sale until this summer.

There's only one problem: Linksys, a division of Cisco Systems, already has a product called the iPhone on the market, and Cisco has held a registered trademark on "iPhone" since 2000 (the trademark, registration number 2293011, was actually registered in 1999 and assigned to Cisco by the original owner). Cisco's trademark is for a slightly different product: an VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol phone. This type of phone uses an internet connection to communicate with the other party rather than traditional phone lines or a cellular or digital phone network. Thus, the goods are slightly different, but the fact remains that both products are phones of one type or another, a fact which may weigh in favor of Cisco. Apparently the two sides were in negotiations to permit Apple to use the trademark with Cisco's permission in the days, months, and even years leading up to Apple's iPhone announcement, however no agreement was reached.

Yesterday, Cisco filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Apple. Although the complaint is not yet available via the court's website, in most trademark cases the primary remedy sought is an injunction against sales of the infringing product, so it is likely that Cisco will seek to stop Apple's iPhone from going on the market. Given the stakes, it seems more likely that the parties will eventually reach a settlement that will allow both Apple and Cisco/Linksys to sell their respective iPhone products. However, it will be interesting to see how the case plays out between now and the target launch date of Apple's iPhone in June. Below are photos of the two iPhone products:

iphone linksys iphone

More photos of Apple's iphone are available here. Update (10:05 AM): ZDNet has the text of the complaint here.

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