Cisco suing Apple over iPhone name

When Apple CEO Steve Jobs made his dramatic debut of the iPhone on Tuesday, he apparently did so regardless of Apple not actually securing the iPhone trademark in the U.S. Now Cisco Systems, owner of the iPhone trademark in the U.S., is suing in a California district court and is seeking an injunction against Apple. Cisco says it owns the iPhone name after it bought Infogear in 2000, and last spring it put the name to use by shipping a VoIP phone called iPhone. Infogear filed for the trademark in 1996. An Apple spokeswoman called the lawsuit "silly" and said the company is entitled to use the name because the products are materially different.

It's worth noting that, according to foreign patent office websites, Apple already has the iPhone trademarked in the U.K., Singapore and Australia, while filings are pending in Canada, the EU, New Zealand and Hong Kong.  

You have to wonder now if Apple announced the iPhone too soon. Cisco said Apple had approached the company several times during the past few years and talks had increased during the weeks leading up to the announcement. Suddenly, communication between the two companies stopped on Monday, the day before the iPhone announcement, Cisco said. Now Apple is claiming the two products are materially different. A VoIP phone and a cellular phone aren't that much different, especially when you throw convergence in the mix. But take a look at the language in the March 20, 1996 Infogear trademark: "Computer hardware and software for providing integrated telephone communication with computerized global information networks."

To read more about Cisco's lawsuit:
- check out this article from AP
- and take a look at this timeline of rumors for the iPhone