Apple vs. Cisco: How important is a trademark you don't use?

Apple vs. Cisco: How important is a trademark you don't use?

Summary: I recently reviewed the new Linksys/Cisco CIT-400. This phone is in the iPhone product line that Cisco is suing Apple over.

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TOPICS: iPhone
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I recently reviewed the new Linksys/Cisco CIT-400. This phone is in the iPhone product line that Cisco is suing Apple over.

Cisco is fighting Apple because they had the audacity to use the iPhone name for their new mobile phone. This iPhone trademark is sooooo important to Cisco they want Apple to pay their legal fees and even go as far as giving up all profits made on the Apple phone. And why shouldn't Cisco prevail here? They've obviously put millions into the iPhone brand and actually have had product on the shelves for months and months with that trademark all over it...  

...wait... 

...that's funny...no iPhone brand anywhere on the CIT-400 I'm holding at the moment. Not on the packaging, not on the device itself. How can that be? I must have been sent a really early version of this device that dates waaaaay back. Maybe it came direct from the factory and they didn't have time to stencil it. Yeah...that's it.

Let's go online and check this out.

We'll start with the Linksys site.

Next -->

Well clearly the trademark and brand is right there.  

 

Let's zoom in a little closer

 

Well there it is plain as day...let's go in a little closer using the high res TIFF on their site...

I've only been using Photoshop for 10+ years, so I'm no expert...but that looks like it might be Photoshopped. Note the difference in the text that says Phone Line which is stenciled on the base station and the iPhone text. But hey...maybe this is just a really really good screening job.

Next -->

Regardless, it is obvious I'm just not looking in the right place on my own phone. Let's go back and look at that...

 Hmmm...this really is strange...my logo is missing.

Well obviously something isn't 'right here. Let's go over to Amazon and look up the product because it went on sale recently, and surely it is on those models. I obviously have a special review model.

 

Not there either. Well it is likely this is a really old photo. When did this product start selling on Amazon?

Whoa...so it went on sale just about a month and a half ago. And Cisco let these units go out without the branding on them? Someone obviously made a HUGE mistake because this trademark is REALLY important to Cisco. 

Next -->

Let's go back to Amazon and look at an older iPhone model that has been out since last August. For sure it will have the trademark on it by now. Let's see the CIT300...

Aha! That's more like it. There is the CIT300 iPhone with the logo on it plane as day...take that Apple. Whew, so it is obvious who is in the right here...

It's Cis....whaaaaaaaa?!?!?!

 Wait...where is the iPhone trademark on the CIT300 photo on their site?!?!?

 

Okay I'll just zoom in on that area with their high res TIFF in case my eyes are playing tricks on me.

 

 

Nope...not there. Well isn't that strange...the trademark is on the Amazon photo this time, but NOT the Linksys site?

Well since Amazon has the proper logo, I'm sure it is just an error on the Linksys site. I'll go look at another vendor to double check just in case, because I'm sure it is just an oversight with their marketing department.

Next -->

Let''s see...how about CDW...

 

Arghhh! This is just damn peculiar. Amazon shows the logo, and CDW and Linksys do not.  

Well this is just darn confusing and I don't know what to make of it. I mean Cisco has been very clear how important this trademark is to them. And I can't believe they would just use this as a strategy to strong arm Apple into getting what they want...after they saw how popular the Apple iPhone was and how much press it was getting. I mean they wouldn't do that just to get press themselves...after all...they were there first...

...weren't they?

 

PS...thanks to a commenter that asked me if the markings were on the phone! 

Topic: iPhone

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47 comments
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  • Cisco plus litigation equals Apple

    Before anyone call Cisco a scoundrel, let's not forget the ever litigious Apple. Maybe Cisco is trying to teach Apple a lesson by giving it a bite of their own medicine, plus a chance to make money.

    It is win-win situation for Cisco. By the way, iPhone will not be popular since it is not an open format and so doesn't support 3rd party software. The majority of phone accepts 3rd party software so why can't iPhone? The restriction has more to do with user confinement than about maintaining communication integrity of its cellular network.
    bukake
    • who's a scoundrel?

      I didn't call Cisco a scoundrel...I'm just taking their own stuff and posting it...

      "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

      I don't think Cisco is teaching Apple a lesson...I think Cisco sees a good opportunity...and is capitalizing on it. It certainly brings more attention to a brand no one ever heard about before Apple came along.
      agraham999
      • re: who's a scoundrel?

        "I didn't call Cisco a scoundrel..."

        No, you didn't. The sarcastic tone of your article was what gave him the impression, that you think of Cisco as a scoundrel in this case.

        I don't know if Cisco has a leg to stand on here or not, but I think something will be worked out before it goes to court. And I agree that now at least some people are looking at the "Linksys iPhone" that wouldn't have before.

        What's that saying? there's no such thing as bad publicity.
        Badgered
        • I agree...

          There is nothing like free publicity in this case.

          I'm sarcastic because I think that both parties in this case are silly...and Apple has been taking a lot of grief for screwing this up...and yet both companies look stupid to me. I'm just looking at it from another angle...and you gotta admit...it looks pretty strange.
          agraham999
          • Strange, or just a little bit

            amusing.

            Interesting article, and nice use of the Shakespeare. This whole story has had all the marks of a publicity stunt since day one, and your article does nothing to change my view of that. To the contrary, it renews my belief that this is another case of Much Ado About Nothing.

            Thanks for following this.
            fuzzy2k
    • Had to respond

      Apple's law suits are gernerally well grounded and are protecting their products and
      marketing. If you don't know Apple just paid the $700,000. legal fees of the bloggers
      they sued. I think that's pretty stand up if you ask me.
      BTW nice name, what do you do in your spare time?
      ecrelin
  • Thank you and its worse?

    Besides this tomfoolery the true evidence and Cisco's Waterloo will be if they ever
    show up in court with their copyright confirmation submission to prove they've
    been using the brand. This image is publicly available, was submitted in the late
    grace period beyond the actual submission date and was to prove that they had
    been "actively" using the trademark during the years they held it. The picture
    shows a hastily applied paper sticker stuck on the outside of the shrink wrapped
    package of a phone. I too immediately went to the Cisco site and the only
    reference on there was two renamed pdfs for the product. I say renamed because
    the only time the name iPhone appeared was in the title, not in any of the text.
    Since then there have been these mysteriously appearing items that you have been
    observing. No lawyer in his right mind would try to go to court with this crap as he
    would have his ass handed to him in a heartbeat (much like the city of Boston will
    for their "hoax" charges). Cisco will continue to accommodate Apple and woo
    them for some money but I bet Jobs will out poker them and release the phone in
    their face and Cisco will slink away like the dogs they are. The trademark was
    clearly abandoned.
    ecrelin
    • Tomfoolery? Maybe you shouldnt try to be a lawyer.

      Apple has nothing on Cisco. The stock is better, the corporate standing is better, and "The trademark was clearly abandoned." ? WOW, they held the trademark for over 10 years. Cisco was just waiting for the right oppurtunity to deflate the apple balloon. Where was apple going before the iPod? Must be there great servers that power the world? Must be there amazing network devices? And Jobs is not an idiot anymore. He lost his job once, I dont think he will want to do it again, by serving time in club-fed. Learn boy, learn.... Where is the documentation stating the trademark was abandoned? Another genius here everyone.
      Sicilz
      • from a lawyer, an old lawyer

        A fraud is a fraud and it is said that fraud vitiates everything. Photoshopping a logo? Come on Cisco, get real!!
        woods4
  • A trademark is a trademark

    Who cares if Cisco has any products out in the marketplace today? Do you work at Cisco or have any clue what their plans are for this brand name? The have the legal right to do whatever they want. They own the rights to this brand. Sounds like someone at Apple didn't do their homework on this one or it is just pure arrogance on their part.

    You're obviously a big proponent of apple products and probably drive around with one of their stickers stuck to your rear view windows.
    ryansommers
    • re: A trademark is a trademark

      If Cisco wasn't actually using the Trademark, then it doesn't matter. They actually
      have to give proof that they were using the trademark. Their proof was a picture of a
      shrink-wrapped product that they were already selling with an iPhone sticker
      attached to it. Not very good proof if you ask me.
      higaara
      • Proof of Use Not Required

        Um, you need to get your facts straight before spouting off (Google is a good resource). They don't have to give proof if the trademark is registered federally (which it is).

        http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=qskkn3.2.14

        A. FEDERAL REGISTRATION. There are significant advantages to having a trademark properly registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

        ? Registration is proof of the validity of the mark and the registrant?s ownership of the mark. 2. These legal presumptions simplify the evidence needed in an enforcement action and may result in a considerable savings in legal fees.

        ? After five years, the mark becomes ?incontestible.? The registration is then conclusive evidence of validity and ownership, and the mark may only be canceled on certain specified grounds. 3. This is the most important benefit of a federal registration.
        Daemonstar
        • Proof of Use IS Required

          You've left out the details of what makes a mark incontestable. To quote the USPTO's website:

          "A ?15 Declaration may not be filed until the mark has been in continuous use in commerce for at least five consecutive years subsequent to the date of registration..."

          Section 15 concerns incontestable trademarks. Please note the phrase "continuous use in commerce." Cisco filed for the trademark in November 1999. If they get to keep the trademark, and they USE it for the next five years, THEN it becomes incontestable.

          Here's the link:

          http://www.uspto.gov/web/trademarks/workflow/prfaq.htm
          msalzberg
      • Oh SHhhhh...

        IT IS CISCO'S TRADEMARK. THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT WITH IT.

        Let me see... Let me buy a house, and not use it, so then anyone can walk in and call it theirs...

        wow!
        Sicilz
        • Exactly.

          Actually, that's an excellent example of why your argument is wrong. There are many areas that have squatter's rights laws. If you abandon and fail to defend your property, under certain conditions (and a long period of time), the squatters who live there can sometimes file to take legal ownership of the property. Some of Apple's arguments mirror this almost exactly.

          Remember, just because you shout it doesn't make it true.
          AnotherThought
          • Real life example

            Each year Brigham Young University must close all road access to their Utah
            campus for at least one day. If they do not, the state assumes BYU has abandoned
            ownership of the roads within the campus and they revert to public property.

            The idea of loss through abandonment is prevalant throughout law.

            The most damning evidence against Cisco is not that THEY didn't use the
            trademark, but rather that other companies HAVE and Cisco did not sue. This is
            classic abandonment under trademark law, and all Apple has to do is demonstrate
            it to have the trademark declared abandoned and in the public domain.
            frgough
          • inane comparison

            since you are referring to utah, we take ANY comparions with a
            grain of salt.

            of source, i could be wrong but isn't this the state where coffe was once considered as borderline sinful...

            and young girls are kidnapped in order to promote polygamy,

            give me a f(^7%*g break....BYU...what a joke..

            the only thing worth spit in utah is that the planes and cars are able to

            ....leave....

            i won't make a legal remark re: this issue due to my fatigue at reading the inane pseudo-legal mumbo jumbo that gets posted about articles like this...

            thse are 2 corporate snakes just angling for best opp to bite the others neck,,though i must admit that apple and aoorgance seem to go hand-in-hand...

            must be the norcal lack of self-esteem...
            c00k1e
    • Well actually...

      I don't drive around with one of those stickers...but I do own Apple products...and Cisco products...and Linksys products...and if you saw my review of this phone I gave it a glorious review.

      I don't see how pointing this out makes me a Cisco hater. And...the whole point of this is that no one knows yet who has the legal right to the name.
      agraham999
  • IPFONES OOOPS IPHONE OOOPS

    AS both giants are raging war on the trademark, what is an ifones oopps, IPHONE really?

    It's supposedly to be next generations phones that will ultimately merge with some internet usage and adopting new technologies like Internet Protocols. So could call them Internet Protocols Phones or IP Phones? But most people around the world would makes spelling mistakes and write phones as fones so why not call their new devices IP FONES? In short IPFONES would be a rather judicious names would it not?

    I suggest to let Apple not waste money on fighting this loosing battle and I propose to talk to Apple about the IPFONES Brand adoption and spend the money on better research and development of new devices. We would all win...
    thomasbui
  • Trademarks are VERY important! ! !

    Whether the trademark is on the product or not it's still trademarked. I actually have an early edition ipod that does not have the ipod logo only the apple logo. Using your logic does this mean that that it's not an ipod? I think not! Not sure on the dates but it can actually take several years to get a trademark processed. Doesn't make sense to print a pending trakedmark on products. Basically, there are other factors involved than just printing a logo on the product itself.
    imaginemn