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Cisco Extends Negotiations on iPhone 74

Posted by Zonk
from the just-a-little-bit-longer dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple and Cisco have just a short while longer to discuss the use of the iPhone name for Apple's new product. Cisco has extended the deadline for a resolution out to February 21st. The two companies are seeking a peaceful resolution to their problems, and the deadline was extended to 'reach an agreement on trademark rights and interoperability.' Early this month, Cisco put their lawsuit on hold to start these negotiations - it's easy to understand why they wouldn't want to scrap a whole month's worth of discussion over a few final details."
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Cisco Extends Negotiations on iPhone

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  • by bendodge (998616) <bendodge@@@bsgprogrammers...com> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @01:40PM (#18061004) Homepage Journal
    Why could Apple just buy the trademark? Is Cisco charging too much, since they know they have Apple over a barrel? Here's how I see it:

    1. Cisco got the trademark, legal and straight.
    2. Apple wanted it.
    3. Cisco wouldn't give it up.
    4. Apple used it anyway.
    5. Cisco sues.

    Why can't Cisco just sell it? Is it just a case of general greed?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Apple doesn't believe that cisco has a good claim to the trademark for the name as they don't really use it.
      Therefore they aren't about to shell about a bunch of money to cisco and do exactly what cisco wants.
    • by morcheeba (260908) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:09PM (#18061168) Journal
      You can't sell a trademark [wikipedia.org] in the US without the sale of some underlying asset. And, presumably, that asset must appear in the phone.

      Trademark isn't an asset like copyrighted works or patents. It's a method for customers to identify the source of goods. Suppose a customer associates "iphone" with cisco -- if someone other that cisco sells an "iphone", then the trademark has failed and does not serve its purpose of manufacturer identification. .. now whether customers associate "iphone" more with Cisco or Apple is another question. And, if the courts assign it to the lesser-associated-with product, will it serve the public interest?
    • Cisco got the trademark, legal and straight.

      Did they? The nameing format for Apple products is well established. How is this any different than domain squating? Cisco is being dishonest about this, and is extorting Apple to get a piece of pie that they have no right to. Apple will end up paying Cisco because it'll be cheaper in the long run, but the shouldn't have to.

      • by Luthair (847766)

        Actually the iPhone trademark was filed in 1996, before Apple "came up with" the idea of prefixing a word with an 'i'.

        http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state =m4r9h4.2.14

        • Actually the iPhone trademark was filed in 1996

          But the question is, do they actually have a product? No?

          • Yes, they do have a product: http://www.linksys.com/iphone/ [linksys.com]
          • by Koushiro (612241)
            Yes? [amazon.com]
            • Read the product description. Note that while the name of the product is "Linksys WIP320 Linksys Wireless-G Skype iPhone", everywhere else it refers to the phone as, "the Linksys Wireless-G Phone for Skype", or simply, "the Wireless-G Phone".

              Not the "the Wireless-G iPhone". Looks to me like they tacked an "i" onto the product name just in time for the lawsuit.

              Be interesting to see if anyone has any physical brochures or product sheets on the "iPhone" that predate the lawsuit... and whether or not they had a
          • by Wavicle (181176) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @04:20PM (#18062044)
            Okay to all the posters prior to this who pointed out the cisco iPhone...

            Cisco created that product AFTER Apple announced their iPhone. Cisco allowed their trademark to LAPSE then quickly pulled it back while it was in limbo before being completely abandoned. Cisco incorrectly claimed to have an iPhone product when they renewed the trademark. After word of Apple's iPhone started floating around, Cisco quickly rebranded an existing product to use the iPhone name hoping to hold on to it.

            In short, Cisco acted with bad faith, and continues to do so.

            I don't particularly like either company, but I think Cisco is the dishonest party in this case.
      • by Mr_Toph (843301) *
        See, the thing is they should have to pay, just for the reason that they were a little cocky in having one of Steve Job's "release parties" for a product that they don't legally have rights to the name on.
    • by msh317 (917677)
      One primary reason Cisco may not be able to just "Sell" the iphone trademark is that Cisco doesn't own it - research shows at least two prior iPhone products before Cisco's use of the name - one was in production from the same company that received the original VoIP Patent award - iLink. This was a Marriott company based in Salt Lake during the late 90's - one of the founding members was a young Ukrainian named "Alex Radulivic" who was eventually awarded a limited patent on the first development of VoIP.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Apple believes there is ample evidence to reevoke (or at least vigourosly contest) the trademark (late filing, no products in the market for the longest time etc.). Cisco believes they can get big bucks from Apple for the name. Hence the legal dancing.
  • The two companies are seeking a peaceful resolution to their problems, and the deadline was extended to 'reach an agreement on trademark rights and interoperability.

    If they failed to come to a "peaceful resolution", does that mean open war between Apple and Cisco? That should be interesting. Apple can hurl old Macs from Cupertino and Cisco can hurl old routers from San Jose.
    • by barwin (588144)
      The use of the word 'peaceful' caught my eye too. It's not like these are US/Iraq talks or something.

      I imagine that even if they don't settle this quickly, there won't be bloodshed ... or will there??
      • by lukas84 (912874)
        There's lots of literature/games/stories with fights between megacorps.

        Notable for example Shadowrun [wikipedia.org].

        This is where our society is headed...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    A massive amount of money has no doubt been wasted on legal fees over this debacle. Situations like this always disgust me when high-tech companies are involved, mainly because that money could have been put to far better uses by both companies.

    Imagine what sort of breakthroughs or other technological developments we could have had if Apple and Cisco had given this money to their engineers, rather than their lawyers.

    Even just for Apple, this money could no doubt have purchased a number of new optimizations
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:02PM (#18061124)
    Based on everything I've heard I think the unspoken issue may be Cisco trying to use this issue to keep Apple out of VOIP. Their case doesn't sound strong enough to keep Apple from using the name but they probably can with VOIP phones.
  • I still think it should be called "iCell" Get it? iPod...iCell...units of space...function as extra storage space for various files...

    *crickets*
    • Sorry... iDontGetIt.
      • Pod: A protective capsule or case.

        Cell: A small room or prison.

        "Wow, monk cells look like little pods from a distance...now I understand why we call plant-cells 'cells'."
    • In the U.S. it is a cellphone In Australia it is a mobile phone In Asia it is a handphone The only common word is phone, so i guess iPhone makes more sense.
  • by DurendalMac (736637) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:14PM (#18061206)
    If it ever went to court, Cicso would probably lose their trademark. For one, other products were released by other companies that used the name iPhone. Cicso did absolutely nothing. That's a big hit in a trademark lawsuit. If you don't defend it, you lose it. Second, Cicso filed the trademark renewal at almost literally the last minute, and the photo they used was an existing product with a sticker that said "iPhone" slapped on the outside of the clear plastic wrapping. So it stands that they did not have a product named "iPhone" when they renewed their trademark, which means that their renewal was more than likely invalid. If you don't use it, you lose it. Hopefully both companies sort things out, but I think if it ever came to a nasty trademark suit, Apple would wind up with the trademark.
    • by dhovis (303725) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:01PM (#18061516)

      I think it goes beyond knowing they may lose the case. I think they know that they not only will lose the case, but Cisco also has a couple of employees who are potentially on the hook for perjury right now for fraudulently signing that affidavit claiming that they've been using the trademark for years when they clearly had not. They even submitted a forged picture with a sticker on the outside of the shrinkwrap, claiming it was an actual product being sold by Cisco. Cisco wants to find a way out of this without going to trial, but they can't look to their shareholders like they gave up the potentially very valuable trademark "iPhone" for nothing.

    • by Mr_Toph (843301) *

      For one, other products were released by other companies that used the name iPhone. Cicso did absolutely nothing. That's a big hit in a trademark lawsuit. If you don't defend it, you lose it.
      What "other products" named iPhone? There was only one product named iPhone and Cisco bought the company that owned the product, which is how they came across the trademark. It wouldn't be just Cisco kicking up a fuss if someone else had a product named iPhone, Apple would be doing the same.
    • by Iago515 (862958)
      If this ever went to court, assuming what you say is correct, then both will lose. Cisco would lose the trademark, but Apple would lose time. Apple wants to start selling the product this year: how long do you think it'll take for the courts to settle this? I would put money in not a short enough time frame for Apple's liking.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dan Ost (415913)
        Apple only loses time if Cisco gets an injunction against them using the name.

        If Apple is confident that there will be no injunction, then they can continue to
        market the iPhone without any lost time.

  • It's more likely that Cisco's sword rattling didn't have the desired effect; Apple still went ahead without Cisco's "approval." The business leaders at Cisco let the trademark lapse [slashdot.org]. Even if Cisco still had rights to the trademark, the scope of the trademark is doubtful; it could be proved that an IP phone and a wireless phone are really in the same market at all.

  • by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @02:53PM (#18061474) Homepage Journal

    Coupla thoughts:

    • It's not clear that Cisco "owns" the name "iPhone" in this case.

      • Apple's product isn't particularly close to the "iPhone" product Cisco now holds the trademark for.
      • There are several other trademarked "iPhone" products also slightly dissimilar that Cisco hasn't challenged (nor have they challenged Cisco).
      • Cisco hadn't exercised their trademarked "iPhone" until they rushed a rebranded product out just in advance of Apple's announcement. This was clearly done entirely to support any claim to the "iPhone" name as the packaging was nothing more then crack-n-peel stickers pasted over the product's original name, not a particularly credible product.
    • Cisco's goal appears to be assuring their interoperability with this, and later, versions of Apple's iPhone line.

      • Assured interoperability could prove highly valuable should Apple's iPhone product line eventually encompass VOIP technologies, something most folks expect will happen sooner rather then later.
      • On the other hand such an obligated partnership could well prove onerous to Apple; greatly complicating future technology directions and post-AT&T-committment/other-region carrier negotiations.
      • Apple has historically not been a great hardware partner, witness their repeated difficulties with Motorola (the rocky AIM alliance, their unilateral cancellation of Motorola's license to build 3rd party Mac motherboards, the dismal limitations and stunted marketing of the ROKR phone capped with Apple's decision to build a competing phone. ) A forced partnership with Cisco doesn't inspire much confidence of a better relationship.
    • The trademark issue is unlikely to have any immediate effect on Apple's "iPhone" marketing or consumers, it's all IMHO a tempest-in-a-teapot.

      • For the reasons above Cisco is unlikely to get either an injunction against Apple continuing to market the name "iPhone" or a summary judgement in Ciscio's favor. Instead this is likely to drag out for years in legal actions & responses.
      • While Apple has begun their marketing for the iPhone it hasn't even entered production yet, so any branding changes to another name is still entirely possible, and will only create more hype.
      • The most likely end result of this whole exercise is Apple either winning the right to use "iPhone" as a a different product then the one Cisco now holds the trademark for, or Apple in a few years pays Cisco some sum of money to make up for damages and makes the whole thing go away.

    Frankly this whole discussion seems a product of the extreme interest in Apple's iPhone and no new real news to report on it, so instead everyone natters on about a trademark issue as if it has any substantive effect.

    What interests me far more is what Apple has done then what it is named.

    Apple has changed the relationship between phone makers and carriers. They got Cingular, now AT&T, to change their backend specifically to accomodate the iPhone's front-end features. That's big. That cracks open the door to carriers finally starting to get smart about expanding services in partnership with handset makers instead of simply dictating what of the standard feature sets they will & will not support.

    Apple seems poised to deliver a mass market portable web browser. No, they're not the first, but to a large extant this is the first one most consumers will be aware of. Finally a decent browser, not the ugly-stepsister WAP stuff, with a good sized screen and able to connect to both the 'net & local networks.

    And yeah, it's a wide-screen(ish, it's a bit of an odd ratio) iPod video player. A larger, very high quality, screen, abandonment of the defining circular touchpad, a refreshed interface and video now becoming a peer to audio instead of being an afterthought.

    Indeed, what is most suprising to me is that Apple even chose

    • by argent (18001)
      I agree, the trademark issue is a sideshow. Some of the other things Apple's doing are a lot more interesting. Some in a not-so-good way, alas.
    • by jeryan2 (168791)
      It seems like Apple Inc. Could easily side step this brouhaha by doing what they did with iTV, viz: change the name just prior (or at) release to, "ta da", Apple Phone.
    • by bmud (590967)
      Your writing would gain a significant measure of immaterial credibility if you knew the difference between then and than. "Then" is subsequent in time. "Than" is for comparisons.
  • by sokoban (142301) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @03:31PM (#18061724) Homepage
    Googlefight to the death. Winner takes the trademark.

    http://googlefight.com/index.php?lang=en_GB&word1= Apple+AND+iPhone&word2=Cisco+AND+iPhone [googlefight.com]

    Looks like Cisco got iPwned
    • I sure hope that the 'interesting' moderation is because 'funny' doesn't get you karma. There's nothing interesting about a google fight between a product that supposedly has been available for years but has gotten little attention, and a product that got more press coverage than the O.J. case relatively recently.

      Here's a much simpler solution:
      Did anybody use the term iPhone for a product in the voice telecommunications business before? If so - let them have it. If they didn't file for it. Fine - nobody
  • by tsa (15680)
    Cisco could have negotiated with Apple until they reached an agreement over the use of the iPhone trademark, but I think they sued Apple because they could get more money this way.
    • by tgibbs (83782)

      Cisco could have negotiated with Apple until they reached an agreement over the use of the iPhone trademark, but I think they sued Apple because they could get more money this way.

      Absolutely. And Apple could have reached an agreement early on, but they thought they could save money this way.

      Both companies have fairly strong positions. Cisco had the rights to the name and is currently using it (even if they obviously stuck the name on a product just to head Apple off). But Apple could use another name on the

      • by DarkJC (810888)
        Except Apple came right out and said that iTV was not the final name when we first got our sneak peak of it. They've done no such thing wrt the iPhone.
        • by tgibbs (83782)

          Except Apple came right out and said that iTV was not the final name when we first got our sneak peak of it. They've done no such thing wrt the iPhone.

          Neither have they made any commitment to use the iPhone name on the final product. Why would Apple want to show their hand this early? I think that there is no question that Apple would like to use the iPhone name if it doesn't cost them too much, but they clearly don't need it. Their negotiating position is strengthened by keeping their options open.

  • by INeededALogin (771371) on Sunday February 18, 2007 @05:10PM (#18062376) Journal
    Cisco: we registered it, our copyright.
    Apple: let us use iPhone or we will register iSwitch, iRouter and iFirewall.

    Apple user here, but I seriously think that Cisco is worried mainly about the potential for bad PR for Cisco since Apple can seem to do no wrong lately. Headline: iPhone delayed because apple has to scratch off iPhone logo from 200,000 devices because Cisco wanted the 'i'.
    • Weren't there also some problems with Cisco's legal claim to the name? I can't quite remember what it was but AFAIK they failed in both US and EU to adequately secure the name.

      Thus, Cisco may be just hanging on for the nuisance factor. After all, SCO got away with it for years..

      It's of course my personal opinion, but I think Cisco were trying it on and Steve Jobs called their bluff. And I think he'll get away with it as well, Cisco can claim as much as it wants but Apple has pretty much claimed the 'i' n
  • by Anonymous Coward
    No wonder their name is CiSCO.

    Lame.
  • Am I the only one (Score:3, Insightful)

    by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@gREDHATmail.com minus distro> on Sunday February 18, 2007 @08:10PM (#18063358) Homepage
    Who noticed that the net effect of this lawsuit is to get apple free media coverage for apple's iPhone?

    Maybe apple, or both apple and cisco have some incentive to put off settlement for awhile?
  • WTF is that?! If the negotiations break down, will there be cannon-fire reaching 1 Infinite Loop or something?

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