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Cisco Systems, a leading telecommunication company, on Wednesday announced that it has filed a lawsuit in the United States district court for the Northern District of California against Apple in order to prevent usage of iPhone name. Cisco claims its ownership of the mark and does not want to allow Apple to use it for its recently announced mobile phone.

Cisco obtained the iPhone trademark in 2000 after completing the acquisition of Infogear, which previously owned the mark and sold iPhone products for several years. Infogear’s original filing for the trademark dates to March 20, 1996, the telecom company said. Linksys, a division of Cisco, has been shipping a new family of iPhone products since early last year and in mid-December Linksys expanded the iPhone family with additional products, the firm reminded.

“Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco’s iPhone name. There is no doubt that Apple’s new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission,” said Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel, Cisco.

Cisco Inc., is seeking to prevent Apple from infringing upon and deliberately copying and using Cisco’s registered iPhone trademark, according to the statement of the company.

“Today’s iPhone is not tomorrow’s iPhone. The potential for convergence of the home phone, cell phone, work phone and PC is limitless, which is why it is so important for us to protect our brand,” Mr. Chandler added.

The U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office’s databases do not list iPhone as a trademark of Apple Computer Inc., but a number of companies own the rights to use the iPhone brand-name, including Teledex LLC, Xtreme Mobile LLC, Ocean Telecom Services LLC, Infogear Technology Corp. (now owned by Cisco Systems Inc.). Apple also did not say that the iPhone trademark was its registered trademark in a press release dedicated to its much-anticipated cell phone.

Screenshots from Trademark Applications of Apple and Ocean Telecom Services. Click to enlarge.

Nevertheless, the description of iPhone by Ocean Telecom Services LLC – “handheld and mobile digital electronic devices for the sending and receiving of telephone calls, faxes, electronic mail, and other digital data; MP3 and other digital format audio players” – is exactly the same that Apple uses to describe the iPhone in New Zealand’s Intellectual Property Office. Still, the filing of Ocean Telecom Services LLC is dated September, 2006, a decade later than Cisco’s.


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