updated 03:05 pm EST, Thu January 11, 2007
Apple, Cisco square off
Apple and Cisco are continuing to square off over the iPhone trademark, following the lawsuit filed by Cisco over willful trademark infringement. Apple today called the lawsuit "silly," while Cisco said it was willing to share iPhone with Apple. Earlier this week, Cisco said that Apple refused to send over final agreement paper on Tuesday and that it had no choice but to sue Apple over willful trademark violations, when Apple announced the iPhone on Tuesday without permission. Apple spokesman Steve Dowling called the Cisco lawsuit "silly," saying there are several companies using the term iPhone for VOIP products, and Cisco's trademark is "tenuous at best." "We're the first company to ever use the iPhone name for a cellphone," he told the WSJ. "If Cisco wants to challenge us on it, we're very confident we'll prevail."
On Wednesday, Cisco filed for an injunction to prevent Apple from using the iPhone name, which is currently used for VOIP-based devices from its consumer wireless division. The companies were reportedly on the verge of an agreement after several weeks of negotiations.
"Intellectual property is the lifeblood of Silicon Valley and we all have to protect our property. The iPhone trademark is owned by Cisco, as noted in your story," a Cisco spokesperson told the WSJ. "We (Cisco) had hoped to reach an agreement to share our trademark with Apple, yet they decided to use the name without our agreement, so we, unfortunately, are having to go to court to stop them from using the name. We still hope we can reach an agreement, but when your neighbor steals your property, you have no recourse other than to call the cops and file a complaint."
Mark Chandler, Cisco's SVP and General Counsel, on Apple's infringement of Cisco's iPhone trademark, also said in his blog that he was surprised when Apple announced the iPhone without an agreement, because they were open to sharing the iPhone brand with Apple.
"For the last few weeks, we have been in serious discussions with Apple over how the two companies could work together and share the iPhone trademark," Chandler wrote in his blog. "We genuinely believed that we were going to be able to reach an agreement and Apple's communications with us suggested they supported that goal. We negotiated in good faith with every intention to reach a reasonable agreement with Apple by which we would share the iPhone brand."
"So, I was surprised and disappointed when Apple decided to go ahead and announce their new product with our trademarked name without reaching an agreement," he continued.
The refusal by Apple was taken as a slight against the Silicon Valley values of intellectual property and good faith negotiations, according to Cisco's executive: "It was essentially the equivalent of 'we're too busy.'"