Silicon Valley: Cisco Systems, which has sued Apple Inc over the use of the iPhone trademark, is now facing a similar charge from a Canadian telecommunications company.
The Toronto-based Comwave Telecom Inc. has sent Cisco Systems a letter of warning alleging that the networking giant is stepping on its use of the iPhone brand, CNETNews.com has reported.
“We recently became aware of Comwave and we’re investigating the issue thoroughly,” said Cisco spokesman John Noh in response to the dispute with Comwave.
Earlier this month, Cisco had filed a lawsuit against Apple Inc. over the use of the iPhone name, a Cisco trademark since 2000.
Comwave, the second largest VoIP service in Canada, said it had been using the iPhone brand since 2004 to sell Internet phone service to its customers. “Our legal department has put Cisco on notice,” said Yuval Barzakay, president of Toronto-based Comwave. “We will see how they react and then gauge our next action.”
Comwave does not hold a registered trademark for iPhone, but has filed an application for one, reported CNETNews.
According to experts in the trademark registration field, on such issues the Canadian Intellectual Property Office bases its trademark awards to the first user of the brand name in Canada or the first agency in applying to register the name.
Comwave, which filed its own application to register the trademark in 2005, alleges it has had the longest use of the name.
“There has been a Comwave iPhone for years, and, (according to) Canadian law on first use, iPhone is ours,” Barzakay said.
Cisco obtained the iPhone trademark in 2000 after completing the acquisition of Infogear, which previously owned the mark and sold iPhone products for several years.
Infogear’s original filing for the trademark dates to March 20, 1996. Linksys, a division of Cisco, has been shipping a new family of iPhone products since early 2006. It is not clear whether the Cisco’s iPhone products were only sold in the US, or in Canada, as well.
According to records with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Cisco, via Infogear, had filed an application to obtain a trademark for the iPhone name in 1998, but abandoned those efforts in mid-2003, reported the online technology publications.
In 2004, Apple filed an application for use of the name iPhone with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. And within several months, Comwave filed a motion to oppose that application, Barzakay said.