Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Trademark dispute over iPhone between Cisco, Apple

Note that there is a trademark dispute over iPhone between Cisco and Apple:

Cisco Systems Inc. sued Apple Inc. over the use of the iPhone name, setting up a trademark battle a day after Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs introduced the new mobile device.

Cisco claims it owns the iPhone name for telephone service, and said today in the complaint filed in San Francisco federal court that the Apple product "will share an identical sight and sound and strong similarity of meaning." Apple called the suit "silly" and said it was confident it would prevail.

An article in the Boise State Arbiter noted:

...the iPhone is their [Apple's] flagship product.

With streaming web, full e-mail and text messaging capability, access to stock tickers, sports scores and games on the video iPod side, weather, maps and GPS navigation, this is going to be the ultimate portable digital device.

It’s also a phone with state-of-the-art voice-activation software, with the ablility to to consolidate all of your phone and internet contacts into one manageable folder.

The phone will also sport a 2-megapixel camera and Mac OS X will power this amazing bundle.


Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert said...

A more interesting trademark matter appears in the Chicago Tribune Metromix, concerning the trademark of the Ebert/Siskel thumbs up indicator:

Q. Is this a copyright or trademark issue?

A. Trademark. A copyright protects content. A trademark protects a brand. An Ebert review is copyrighted. "Two Thumbs Up" is trademarked.

Q. When did Siskel and Ebert trademark the thumbs?

A. On the show's previous incarnations, "Sneak Previews" and "At the Movies," the two critics offered "Yes" and "No" verdicts for each film, but they changed their approach upon moving to Disney in 1986 for "Siskel & Ebert & the Movies." "We switched when we went to Disney from 'Yes' and 'No' votes to thumbs (my idea) and trademarked them (Gene's idea)," Ebert said in an e-mail.

Q. So if Richard Roeper or his new semipermanent guest host, Robert Wilonsky, flashes a thumbs-up sign, Ebert could sue him?

A. In the opinion of intellectual property/entertainment lawyer E. Leonard Rubin, no. Ebert and Siskel trademarked the "thumbs up"/"thumbs down" catchphrases in relation to movies, and "Two Thumbs Up" has become a powerful identifier for the show as well as a potent marketing tool for the studios. But the gesture of raising or lowering thumbs to indicate approval or disapproval dates back to ancient Rome, so it's not original and cannot be trademarked.

"Disney cannot use ['Two Thumbs Up'] to indicate the show," Rubin said. "But people on television during the show, I believe, are not prohibited from using a gesture thumbs-up or a gesture thumbs-down: 'I liked it,' 'I didn't like it.'"

Q. How come Disney can't use Ebert's thumbs but can use his name in the title?

A. For Ebert, trying to remove his name from the show certainly would mark a drastic escalation of presumably ongoing contract talks. (Ebert has been off the show since June 2006 following cancer surgery and related procedures that, for now, have left him unable to speak. He has said he withdrew the "thumbs" after Disney failed to budge from its "offensively low" initial contract-renewal offer.) Ebert hasn't pressed the issue, and Disney said in a statement it is saving his "seat in the balcony."

"It's very clear we want him to come back," Disney-ABC spokeswoman Bridget Osterhaus said. "We're hoping this gets resolved."

Q. When did the show's name change from "Ebert & Roeper" to "At the Movies With Ebert & Roeper"?

A. Over the summer.

Q. Doesn't Tribune Entertainment, which syndicated the original "At the Movies" before Siskel and Ebert jumped to Disney, have a trademark on that name?

A. "A trademark has to be used to be viable," Rubin said. The last incarnation of "At the Movies," with co-hosts Rex Reed and Dixie Whatley, went off the air in 1990. Rubin notes that there's no set period to determine when a trademark has been vacated, but in this case, "you're talking about a 17-year period of non-use, so my guess is it's now available for others." Osterhaus said simply: "Yes, we have the right to use 'At the Movies.'" No one from Tribune Entertainment had a comment.

Q. Is it significant that Disney chose a new title that no longer begins with Ebert's name?

A. According to Disney, no. Osterhaus said the company launched the Web site, more than a year ago, and the title change was a long-planned effort to align the show with its online counterpart, which now features sponsored video clips of past Siskel, Ebert and Roeper reviews.

Posted on IPBiz 3 Sept 07

6:15 AM  

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