According to trademark law experts, Cisco may not be the owner of the iPhone name as it claims in the lawsuit filed this week against Apple. The iPhone trademark, owned by Cisco since 2000, was apparently abandoned in late 2005/early 2006 because the company was not actively selling a product under the iPhone name.

Cisco filed a Declaration of Use with the US Patent and Trademark office days before the trademark’s expiration in May 2006, following a six month grace period, but only provided a photo of one of its previously existing products—the Linksys CIT200 Cordless Internet Telephony Kit—with an “iPhone” sticker affixed over the product’s name.

“If Cisco didn’t launch a product using the iPhone name, their trademark registration would be canceled and they would have no bargaining chips with Apple,” says attorney Jay Behmke. “So in order to keep the trademark active, they had to file the Declaration of Use, and start selling a product under that trademark.”

“It is possible that the Declaration of Use is defective, as there was no continuous use, and the sample that Cisco submitted was for a product not released until 7 months later,” Behmke says. “The fact that the Declaration of Use was submitted only days before the deadline expires gives me the impression that they were scrambling to get a product to market, and had to file the Declaration before the product was ready.”

LC Angell

LC Angell was a senior editor at iLounge. Angell is known for her work on various aspects of the Apple ecosystem, including iPhone, iPad, and iPod. In his role at iLounge, Angell was responsible for a wide range of editorial content, including reviews, buyer's guides, news, and features.