Hold the phone Apple. Get in line Cisco. When it comes to Canada, it turns out Comwave Telecom Inc. already has a claim on the iPhone brand name.
The Toronto-based company has been marketing a voice-over-Internet services under the registered trademark iPhone since 2004 and even has a wireless device called iPhone Mobile.
Comwave's president and chief executive officer, Yuval Barzakay, said Friday there's no reason for his company to change its plans just because the two big U.S. technology companies happen to want to use iPhone for their products as well.
"There's no confirmed reports that Apple will launch iPhone in Canada," he said in an interview. "And there's no trademark designation on their iPhone logo. So we're not quite sure where they're headed with that." He also noted that Cisco Systems Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming last week that iPhone has been a Cisco trademark since 2000.
But even Cisco hasn't been challenging Comwave's rights to that name in Canada, even though the American communications equipment giant - best known for its Internet routers - is aware of the Canadian product, Mr. Barzakay said.
"There are tens of thousands of Canadians across Canada using the iPhone. It's an extremely successful product for us. And our plans are to forge ahead, unless we get legal opinion to do otherwise," Mr. Barzakay said.
"There's nobody infringing on our trademark in Canada at the present time. There's announcements but no one has actually infringed yet. Apple hasn't launched their iPhone in Canada and Cisco hasn't launched their iPhone in Canada, either. So it's still yet to be determined and that's why we're taking our time and studying our moves."
Comwave, a private company that considers itself the third-largest voice-over-IP provider doesn't release financial results to the public.
Its iPhone is actually a bundle of hardware and services, sold as an alternative to traditional phone service. It's available in 500 communities across Canada.
Industry observers had long anticipated Apple Inc. to bring out a smart cellphone but many said that the device unveiled by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in San Francisco this week far surpassed expectations because of its sophisticated design.
The Apple iPhone, which will be priced at $499 (U.S.) or $599 depending on the model, doesn't have a traditional keypad. Instead it has a touch-sensitive screen with virtual keys. It also combines the music features of the Apple iPod and wireless Internet capabilities.
The phone will initially be only available on AT&T's Cingular Wireless network in the United States, starting in June. Apple also announced its intention to launch the phone in Europe later this year and in Asia in 2008.