Monday, December 18, 2006

What's in a (trademarked) Name?: The LinkSys iPhone Release

Ultra-Insider/Techie Kingdom Blog Gizmodo announced last Friday "Gizmodo Knows: iPhone Will Be Announced on Monday" and followed up with the very tasty post: "It isn't what I expected at all."

Well, they revealed the punchline this morning. There is a new iPhone, but its made by LinkSys, not, as everyone expected, by Apple.

LinkSys, evidently, owns the iPhone trademark, and Apple really hasn't got any rights on it. But this is the sort of thing that truly challenges the notion of trademarks. Clearly, legally, trademarks belong to the owner, and the owner is the one who filed for it first, right? That would be LinkSys.

But, in the real world, trademarks represent companies and people. In the world today, a lowercase "i" before some common word clearly points back to Apple. You can see this quite clearly in the discussions after the Gizmodo leak and before the official announcement. Linksys is clearly going to have to deal with a let-down surrounding their product. "Oh...its not from Apple." will be the first reaction (among many). The second is "Well, I wonder when Apple's phone is coming?"
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