Apple's 'iPhone' problems in Canada

Apple could face yet another lawsuit over the use of the iPhone moniker for its forthcoming "revolutionary" mobile phone. Announced earlier this month, Apple apparently snubbed a protracted period of good-faith negotiations with Cisco, by announcing the product at Macworld Expo with a US launch date of June. A new report says that Apple will likely face iPhone branding problems in Canada as well. Bloomberg reports that Comwave Telecom has used the iPhone brand since 2004 to sell Internet phone service to its customers and filed documents opposing Apple's motion to take the name. Despite reports on Thursday that confirmed Rogers Wireless would serve as the sole provider for Apple's iPhone in Canada, the company has not formally announced plans to ship the iPhone in Canada.
Responding to the possible iPhone naming controversy in Canada, the Cupertino-based company said that it had "nothing to announce at this time" about plans to sell the phone in Canada and declined to comment further.

Company president Yuval Barzakay said in an interview yesterday that his closely held company of about 100 employees plans to fight for its rights. He, however, declined to say how many customers the Toronto-based company has or disclose its revenue, according to the report.

"It's a crucial brand for us," said Barzakay, 36. "Our legal folks believe we're certainly in the driver's seat." Until Apple offers the iPhone in Canada, Comwave has no reason to claim damages, he told Bloomberg.

With current challenges from LG's Prada mobile phone and possible competition from Google and Samsung, Apple's naming troubles could have been easily avoided. Cisco CEO John Chambers described the company's lawsuit against Apple as a "minor skirmish," saying that the iPhone name-related confrontation could have been avoided if Apple had been willing to negotiate. Cisco owned the 'iPhone' trademark since 2000 when it acquired a firm that had registered the name, but waited to use the name until it launched a Linksys-branded product.

"We told Apple for five years, 'This is our trademark. We'll license it to you, but it is ours,'" Chambers said. "All we ask is that people respect our trademarks and our intellectual property. We would have traded that for just interoperability, or the ability of the Apple phone to work smoothly with Cisco products."

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