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Cisco may not own iPhone trademark after all?

01/13, 11:30am

Cisco May Not Own iPhone

Network supplier Cisco may have let its rights to the iPhone trademark expire and then try to reclaim them on tenuous grounds, according to a report by ZDNet. Speaking with legal experts, author Ed Burnette notes that despite registering the trademark in November 1999, Cisco had not released any devices under the iPhone name until the release of its Linksys iPhone in December 2006 -- over a year after the company was required to show that the trademark was in active use. Although the firm had been granted a six-month grace period to provide proof, a filing was made just days before this period ended in May of last year that showed only a box for the company's existing CIT200 VoIP phone with an "iPhone" sticker attached to the outside of the shrinkwrap (pictured). This points to a hasty attempt to keep the iPhone trademark from falling into Apple's hands by falsely suggesting that its existing lineup had already borne the iPhone trademark, Burnette observes.

"[If] there was no continuous use, then Cisco's registration can be canceled," he says.

The gap likely explains Apple's refusal to sign an agreement with Cisco and willingness to risk settling the matter in court. The former is widely believed to have set up a shadow company, Ocean Telecom, to get rights to the name once Cisco's ownership had expired.

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