I don’t think many people were surprised to hear that Apple was being sued over the iPhone trademark given the fact that it has been in Cisco’s possession for the better part of a decade.
Personally, I thought that Apple was just going to throw money at Cisco to make the problem go away. However, it appears that Steve Jobs knew something that Cisco was trying to hide. According to Jay Behmke, a trademark law specialist, Cisco lost the rights to the iPhone trademark on November 16th 2005.
“The Cisco iPhone trademark was registered 11/16/1999 (Reg. No. 2293011). In order to keep a trademark registration active, you have to file a Declaration of Use on or before the sixth anniversary of the registration date, in which you state, under penalty of perjury, that you have been using the trademark continuously during that period. The sixth anniversary would have been 11/16/2005.”
However, Cisco filed a Declaration of Use that extended their registration until 5/16/2006 and they submitted a an image of the trademark in use (the Linksys iPhone packaging) per the rules.
So what’s the problem? Apparently, the first mention of the iPhone with regard to the Linksys product came in December 2006. Even the product manual PDF’s for the device on the Linksys website make no reference to the name iPhone (look for that to change soon). So, to make a long story short, it appears that Cisco knew that Apple was interested in the name, it scrambled to submit a Declaration of Use just days before the deadline, and they threw the name on a product quickly to cover their ass.
So if Apple can prove that Cisco’s Declaration did not illustrate continuous use, than their registration will be cancelled and Apple will be free and clear to use the iPhone moniker. This may be the reason why Apple did not sign the agreement Cisco proposed.