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Apple Unlikely To Go To Court In iPhone Trademark Dispute, Experts Say

By going to court, Apple would have to spend a lot of money defending what appears to be a weak position, lawyers argue.

Apple is more likely to reach a deal with Cisco Systems than to risk losing a trademark suit over the use of the name iPhone, experts say.

In going to court, Apple would have to spend a lot of money defending an arguably weaker position. "I'm 99% certain that this is going to end up a deal," Greg Gabriel, intellectual property attorney at the law firm Kinsella, Weitzman, Iser, Kump & Aldisert, says. "I'm virtually certain that this won't go to trial."

Indeed, Cisco, which sued Apple on Wednesday for allegedly infringing on the iPhone trademark Cisco has owned since 2000, said the companies had been in serious discussions during the last few weeks before Apple CEO Steve Jobs surprised the network-equipment company by announcing the iPhone at the Macworld conference on Tuesday.

"I was surprised and disappointed when Apple decided to go ahead and announce their new product with our trademarked name without reaching an agreement," Mark Chandler, Cisco general counsel, said in a company blog. "It was essentially the equivalent of 'we're too busy.'"

Apple stopped talking at 8 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, and didn't contact Cisco after the launch, despite the two sides being "very close to an agreement," Chandler said.

Apple didn't return multiple requests for comment on Thursday. But on Wednesday, company spokesman Steve Dowling said, "We think Cisco's lawsuit is silly." He also pointed out that several other companies use the name iPhone for products. In checking the Web, Comwave and Teledex are examples of two companies that use the name.

Nevertheless, Gabriel wouldn't call Cisco's suit silly. "Cisco has a slam dunk here," he says. "Not only does Cisco have a 10-year-old trademark, but it has a product using the name iPhone."

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