Intellectual Property Issues
By Phil Downing
Apple has filed for more than 200 patents to secure the technology of the iPhone. However, they were not able to claim one important piece of intellectual property: the name.
In 1993 a company named Infogear invented a phone that integrated telephony and the Internet then trademarked the term “iPhone” in the US. Years later communications giant Cisco purchased Infogear and its rights to the name “iPhone”. Cisco had held an 8 percent share of Infogear for some time and then purchased all outstanding shares of the company for $301 million dollars in 2000.
On Jan. 10, 2007 Cisco sued Apple for infringing on its copy right to the name “iPhone”. The companies were in negotiations working toward allowing both companies to sell their products under the name iPhone. It seems that talks ended after Cisco proposed the idea of the two companies’ products operating together.
Some experts say that Cisco’s trademark was abandoned in 2006. According to US law, you have to prove that you produced and continually used a trademark in order to hold ownership to the property after six years of filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Cisco did not file the Declaration of Use needed to show the trademark was being utilized before the deadline. For a monetary fee Cisco was given a six month extension to produce a label or packaging for their iPhone product to prove they have been utilizing the trademark. This is what they sent in:
- Cisco product that they have “been making” for the past six years
The word iPhone is only visible once on the package and it is outside of the lamination on the box. Cisco literally put a sticker that says “iPhone” on one of their other products and is claiming they have been manufacturing iPhones for years. You’d think a corporation with billions of dollars could produce a better fake than that. This picture probably wouldn’t trick a class of sixth graders let alone the USPTO. Good one Cisco. This just shows how media companies can use ownership of intellectual property to control media commodities and the use of ideas.
Months after faking a product for the USPTO, Cisco did rename one of their products the “iPhone”. However, Apple is still using the term iPhone and I don’t see Cisco doing anything about it. Looks like a W for Apple.