Apple, Cisco make 'iPhone' peace, will share name

Cisco and Apple have settled their dispute over rights to use the iPhone name

Apple and Cisco Systems have agreed to share the "iPhone" name, putting an end to a dispute that threatened the June launch of Apple's highly-anticipated multimedia phone.

The deal ends a six-week legal trademark tussle that began Jan. 10, a day after Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced his company's iPhone, when Cisco filed suit in a northern California federal court, claiming the name as its own via a 2000 acquisition. Cisco currently sells a line of Linksys VoIP devices under the iPhone label.

In a terse joint statement, Apple and Cisco said that they are both "free to use the 'iPhone' trademark on their products throughout the world." All pending legal action will be dismissed.

The two companies will also "explore opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security and consumer and enterprise communications." Earlier, Cisco had been pushing for an interoperability commitment.

With the agreement, Apple is free to use the iPhone label that Jobs unveiled at MacWorld Expo to fanfare and an instant 5 percent boost in the company's share price. If the feud had gone on, Apple might have been barred from using the name or launching the phone on time.

According to statements made by Cisco in January, it and Apple had been negotiating over the iPhone trademark for about two years, with talks dragging on even as Jobs stood on stage and demonstrated the new device in San Francisco. When Jobs used the iPhone moniker at MacWorld, Cisco brought out the lawyers. In return, Apple dismissed the Cisco lawsuit as "silly."

Other terms of the deal will remain confidential, the joint statement said.

Apple's iPhone is slated to go on sale in the U.S. in June, with two models priced at US$499 and $599. AT&T Inc. (formerly Cingular) will be the exclusive wireless carrier.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
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