Tuesday, January 9

Branding Agreement Soon: iPhone

On December 19, I posted about a potential brand war over the trademark "iPhone" shortly after Linksys (a division of Cisco Systems, Inc.) launched an "iPhone" family of products.

Reuters reported that Cisco Systems Inc. expects to reach an agreement with Apple Computer Inc. later today on its "iPhone" trademark. They said it shortly after Apple unveiled a phone with the same name.

So why would Cisco reach an agreement with Apple after fending off so many foes from grabbing up the "iPhone" brand? In the December post, I said that Apple would be wise to sit this one out (they did for awhile without comment), letting others fight it out for the right to use a trademark that Apple might not own, but clearly dominates. Today, Steve Jobs showed the world how much it dominates "i" anything by releasing the product before any agreement was signed.

While Apple could have easily called it something else, I am not surprised. Apple is no stranger to the value of a brand nor litigation over brands. In fact, Apple's earliest court action dates to 1978 when Apple Records, The Beatles-founded record label, filed suit against Apple Computer for trademark infringement, a case that has resurfaced several times over the last few decades. You can read more about it at Wikipedia.

It just goes to show you that — right, wrong, or indifferent — owning a trademark and owning a brand are two different things. And today, it's very obvious that Apple knows it too. Clearly, Cisco does too.

2 comments:

Rich on 1/9/07, 4:08 PM said...

Famous Last Words:

While Cisco says Apple intends to agree to the final document and public statement that were distributed to them last night, Apple is now saying Cisco has the rights to the iPhone name for Internet telephones, but Apple is using the iPhone name as it applies to the cell phone.

For a 360 product view, the best place to go is Apple's iPhone page.

Rich on 1/10/07, 6:46 PM said...

Even More Words:

"The celebration surrounding the launch of Apple’s new iPhone mobile handset was cut short on Wednesday after Cisco Systems, which owns the rights to the iPhone name, said it would sue Apple for trademark infringement." — Kevin Allison, Financial Times

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