updated 04:40 pm EDT, Fri July 11, 2008
Apple settles iPhone trade
Apple and Canada's Comwave Telecom have settled their trademark dispute over the use of the name "iPhone." The agreement was reached Wednesday night, with Apple retaining sole rights to the iPhone name in Canada, and Comwave phasing out its use of the name in reference to its Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service by November 9. Further terms were not disclosed. The agreement, first reported by the Globe and Mail, ends a long battle between the two companies.
“I'm happy to report that we have settled our dispute,” Comwave president and founder Yuval Barzakay said. “Both parties worked hard and diligently to make sure the deal was closed prior to the launch.” Apple Canada representatives declined to comment on the issue.
This was the second dispute Apple has settled regarding the iPhone name. In February 2007, just over a month after Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, Apple settled a dispute with Cisco Systems, which was using the iPhone name to promote its own web-based home-phone service in the U.S.
Comwave used the iPhone brand first in Canada, but more and more, customers were identifying the term with Apple's product. “One of the things that we have always said about the trademark is that whenever you have a very large enterprise like Apple and they put in $20-million to $30-million a quarter into advertising, it doesn't matter whose name it is, eventually they will own it,” Barzakay said.
“It's all about perception. There are hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have been exposed to our iPhone over the course of a few years, but within a very short time, the hysteria on the Apple iPhone has almost caused what I call reverse confusion, in that the perception is that the iPhone name was Apple's and not Comwave's. That is something that we wanted to make clear,” he said.
While the first iteration of the Apple iPhone was a US-based product, it received global attention, with constant rumors of a Canadian arrival. Eventually, Canadian telecom giant Rogers agreed to distribute the phone in Canada, leading to Comwave's filing against Apple's use of the iPhone name.
“They were aware of us and I guess it was just a matter of whether or not they took us seriously,” Barzakay said. “I think in due time they did, and realized that they weren't able to trample over Canadian industry and that an amicable solution would have to come out of it.”