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Apple Out of the Frying Pan

Apple and Cisco have dropped their hotly contested lawsuits over the iPhone trademark. The companies have agreed that they both can use the iPhone trademark anywhere in the world. The companies have also agreed to investigate “opportunities for interoperability in the areas of security, and consumer and enterprise communications.”

I am not privy to the exact terms of the agreement. Were I to hazard a guess, however, I believe the terms of the agreement could be paraphrased something akin to the following:

We know Cisco filed for a trademark on iPhone in 1996. Cisco. however, may not have actually sold an “iPhone” in commerce until December of 2006. We could both fight over the iPhone trademark for the next ten years. Although that would indeed facilitate our outside trademark lawyers being able to finally put those down payments on that majestic archipelago just off the coast of Greece, it would not really do Cisco or Apple much good. Wherefore (we say stuff like that because we are lawyers and assume you expect us to justify our hourly fee by being at least a little cryptic) both parties agree that a lawsuit would be bad. Therefore, in return for both parties dropping their respective lawsuits, Apple agrees to slip Cisco a sweetheart deal with regard to the iPhone gravy train.

Realize, of course, this is merely my own speculation, based upon nothing more than my own belief, opinion and whole cloth. It strikes me however much like the recent settlement in the Iowa Microsoft case settled right here in Des Moines. Companies are finally realizing litigation eats up a lot of the pie. It is often better to have a small piece of the huge pre-litigation pie, than the entire post-litigation pie (purple-fingered lawyers in the corner notwithstanding).

But wait; it is not over yet. Now Quantum is warning Apple of a potential patent lawsuit. Quantum has warned Apple that if the iPhone proximity detection feature works like Quantum’s patented device there could be trouble. Whatever happens, I just hope they put the trial on Youtube so I can stream it through on my new iPhone.

Brett Trout

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