Cisco Systems sued Apple today to prevent it from using the name iPhone for the new smart phone that it introduced yesterday at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.
Cisco filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court for Northern California seeking an injunction against Apple's using the name.
The name iPhone is a registered trademark of Linksys, a division of Cisco. Linksys picked up the iPhone name when it bought a company called Infogear Technology in 2000. Cisco's iPhones are telephone handsets designed for use on a VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) network.
The iPhone has proved to be the most talked-about product at this year's Macworld, and its positive reception has sent Apple's stock surging over the past two days. The company's stock closed at $97 today, up nearly 5 percent for the day.
Apple and Cisco have been in negotiations for about two years over Apple's desire to license the iPhone trademark, according to Cisco spokesman John Noh. When Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone at Macworld, Cisco had not yet received a signed trademark licensing agreement from Apple, though the two companies had been negotiating terms as recently as last Monday night.
In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice president of worldwide iPod marketing, pointed out that Cisco's iPhone brand applies to a line of voice-over-IP products, whereas Apple's iPhone is a cell phone. "They're different products," Joswiak said.
Cisco seems uninclined to accept this interpretation, however. "Because they have been negotiating with us on licensing the trademark all this time, Apple is acknowledging that we own the name," said Noh.
"Cisco entered into negotiations with Apple in good faith after Apple repeatedly asked permission to use Cisco's iPhone name," said Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel for Cisco.
"Today's iPhone is not tomorrow's iPhone. The potential for convergence of the home phone, cell phone, work phone, and PC is limitless, which is why it is so important for us to protect our brand," Chandler said.
In December, Linksys introduced two VoIP handsets to its iPhone line, adding to the five others that the company already offered. The seven phones now constitute part of the Linksys family of products called iPhone.
One of Linksys's newest iPhones is the CIT400, a cordless phone with a base station that attaches directly via ethernet to a network and comes preloaded with VoIP software from eBay's Skype Internet telephony service. This phone allows users to make and receive Skype calls without having to turn on and use their computers.
Yardena Arar of PC World contributed to this report.