iPhone Lawsuit: "A Techno Geek Slap Fight"


For the third consecutive day--investors are talking about Apple’s iPhone. This time the buzz is about a lawsuit. California based Cisco Systems is suing Steve Jobs and company for trademark infringement, claiming they’ve owned the name iPhone since 2000. Who knew Cisco had an iPhone? CNBC’s Jim Goldman did, he first reported it weeks ago, and on today's “Squawk on the Street” he revealed more about the potential fist fight brewing in the Bay area.

"This is really a stunning turn of events for one of the best known names in technology," said Goldman. "Cisco has owned the name for the past 7 years and has attached it to a series of internet phones and other devices."

Who knew Cisco had an iPhone? On CNBC’s “Fast Money" Wednesday night, Dylan Ratigan first articulated what everyone on Wall Street is saying today, “You’d think they would have this worked out ahead of time.”

Cisco’s General Counsel Mark Chandler told CNBC that Apple has been seeking rights from Cisco for the past 5 years. Apparently the technology titans could never see eye-to-eye.

“We've been in intensive discussions with them the last few weeks actually trying to come up with an arrangement where the name can be shared,” explained Chandler. “We're disappointed that didn't work out but at the end of the day we have to take action to make sure our names don get used without our permission.”

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling tells CNBC a decidedly different story about the lawsuit. "It's silly. We think the lawsuit is silly. “There are already several companies using the name iPhone for VOIP (voice over internet protocol) products. Their trademark registration is tenuous at best. We're the first company to use the iPhone name for a cell phone."

With the iPhone due out this June, you’d think the conflict would escalate quickly perhaps even landing before a judge. But not so fast, according to CNBC's 'Fast Money Five.' "It’s a techno geek slap fight.” said 'Fast Money’s' Jeff Macke, also a retail analyst. It’s really not going to matter to Apple or Cisco for that matter. This is just the way they mix it up in the Bay area. Think of it as Rosie versus Donald only much less interesting to the general population.”

Is Jeff Macke right? Will the issue go away as quickly as it came? If it doesn’t, it appears Apple is prepared to go as many rounds as needed. Apple’s Steve Dowling tells us, “If Cisco wants to challenge us on it, we're very confident we will prevail."