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2/1/2007
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iPhone Lawsuit On Hold

Apple and Cisco Systems are back at the bargaining table to try to settle differences over the use of the name iPhone.

Apple and Cisco Systems are back at the bargaining table to try to settle differences over the use of the name iPhone.

The networking equipment market leader filed suit against the iPod/Mac maker last month, claiming Apple infringed on Cisco's iPhone trademark. The suit was filed in federal court in Northern California one day after Apple unveiled its iPhone, a combination cellular phone-music player, at the Macworld conference in San Francisco.

In a joint statement released late Wednesday, the two companies said they had agreed to extend the time Apple has to respond to the suit "to allow for discussions between the companies with the aim of reaching agreement on trademark rights and interoperability."

Cisco has owned the iPhone trademark since 2000, when it acquired Infogear. The latter company used the name for its line of Internet-based phones, which are now under Cisco's Linksys division.

According to Cisco, the two companies had been in contact over how they could share the trademark up until the day before Macworld, when Apple suddenly stopped talking. Apple hasn't said much about the suit. A company spokesman, however, called it "silly," arguing that other companies also use the iPhone name.

Besides reaching an agreement on sharing the trademark, Cisco also would like to reach a deal on how the products could interoperate. That scenario, however, could be a tough sell since Apple prefers a closed system with its portable devices, which are tightly integrated with its iTunes software and online store.

Nevertheless, the extension is unlikely to surprise most legal experts, who have said the two companies are more likely to settle out of court then to spend the money to go to trial.

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