Apple is clearly getting good at this legal stuff. In recent months it settled amicably with the Beatles over its decades long ‘Apple’ lawsuit and now it has come away unscathed from using Cisco’s ‘iPhone’ trademark without asking.
The big question in all of this is ‘How?’ and the answer is a very simple one: Apple knew Cisco had a weak hold on the name and Cisco hoped Apple didn’t know it had a weak hold on the name. Consequently the networking giant announced a brief statement on its website today:
Of course the reason Cisco has had to make such a wishy washy settlement is all its own fault. It inherited the – quite frankly – fantastically appealing trademark when it bought Infogear in 2000. Then did nothing with it, then it heard the rumours Apple might be making a handset called the iPhone, then it still did nothing with it. Then it waited for those rumours to become fact, then it panicked and slipped out a low key ‘iPhone’ branded range of VoIP phones on its Linksys consumer brand one month before Apple’s official announcement.
Problem is if you can’t prove you have significant plans for your trademark then legally your grasp on it starts to slip. The point is to avoid exploitation (eg: registering web domains) though Cisco could and obviously should have done something with the iPhone trademark a long time ago, not only to stamp its authority on it but because – for Heaven’s sake – it is a fantastic name!
I hate to think of the millions Cisco has lost out on here but at least there is a moral that comes from it which will can all teach to youngsters: when you’re lazy about something don’t hire Cisco’s lawyers to help you out.