Cisco, Apple, Ready for iPhone Truce?
Apple Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. are apparently suspending their court battle
over the iPhone to return to the negotiations table.
Although Cisco's lawsuit against Apple remains pending, the two companies have
agreed to extend the time Apple has to respond so that the parties can discuss
trademark rights and interoperability, the companies said late Wednesday. The
aim, they said, is to reach an agreement over the matter.
San Jose-based Cisco, which makes routers and switches to link networks and
power the Internet, has owned the trademark on the name "iPhone" since
2000 and began shipping its own line of iPhone-branded Internet-enabled phones
in the spring of 2006.
Then when Apple announced its cell phone-iPod-Internet communications device
last month and called it "iPhone," negotiations between the tech companies
ended with a loud thud. Cisco sued Apple the following day claiming trademark
Cisco claims Apple's new device is "deceptively and confusingly similar"
to its own line of wireless phones from Cisco's Linksys division. Cupertino-based
Apple says it's entitled to use the name "iPhone" because its device
operates over a cellular network, unlike Cisco's phones, which use the Internet.
Apple plans to start selling its iPhone in June.
During a recent conference call with analysts, Apple's Chief Operating Officer
Tim Cook called the Cisco lawsuit "silly" and said Cisco's trademark
registration was "tenuous at best."
"If Cisco wants to challenge us," Cook said, "we're confident
Under federal law, two companies may share a trademark as long as their uses
aren't confusingly similar. Apple has battled another Apple over trademark before:
Apple Corps, the Beatles' recording company, had sued the computer company over
its entry into the music business.
Despite the more recent legal skirmish, Cisco is pushing ahead with its own
Linksys iPhone. It took out a full page ad in Thursday's edition of The New
York Times to promote the product and included the small "R" for registered
trademark next to the name.
The ad, touting "iPhone: More than talk!" featured two women sitting
back to back on a grassy field, one using a phone and the other a laptop --
an Apple laptop.