Cisco Systems said it sued Apple for infringing its "iPhone" trademark, after Apple unveiled a multimedia phone of the same name.
Cisco said it was seeking to prevent Apple from "infringing upon and deliberately copying and using" the trademark, which the network equipment maker obtained in 2000 after acquiring Infogear. Infogear had previously owned the trademark and had sold devices called iPhones for several years, it said.
But Apple said the suit was frivilous.
"It's silly," Apple spokesman Steve Dowling told CNBC's Jim Goldman. "We think the lawsuit is silly. There are already several companies using the name iPhone for VOIP products. Their trademark registration is tenuous at best. We're the first company to use the iPhone name for a cell phone. If Cisco wants to challenge us on it, we're very confident we will prevail."
Linksys, a division of Cisco, has been selling wireless products with the iPhone name since early last year, with new products added to the line in December. Linksys is part of Cisco's strategy to tap consumer electronics markets.
On Tuesday, a Cisco spokeswoman said the company had been in discussions with Apple, and it believed Apple would agree to a final document and public statement concerning the trademark.
Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs, in an interview on Tuesday after his keynote speech during which he debuted the iPhone, expressed similar sentiments about an agreement being reached.
Mark Chandler, senior vice president and general counsel of Cisco, said Cisco and Apple had held intense discussions in the last several weeks. "We had been ready to resolve the very few items that remained," he told Reuters.
"Our goal was to collaborate with the use of the trademark on different products for the two companies, and also to seek a network-enabled interoperability that would help consumers by allowing for better convergence of ... devices," he said.
"There is no doubt that Apple's new phone is very exciting, but they should not be using our trademark without our permission."