It might come as news to many readers that the popular and now-ubiquitous iPHONE trademark was not originally owned by Apple. In fact, in the US, the trademark (in association with handheld communication devices) was originally owned by CISCO, and marketed as an internet-based phone system. According to what research I can find online, the late Steve Jobs phoned CISCO’s Charles Giancarlo out of the blue (during a Valentine’s Day dinner) and asked him for the trademark rights. As it turned out, CISCO wasn’t all that interested in the iPHONE trademark and wasn’t using it to its fullest extent. Giancarlo and Jobs eventually agreed on the transfer and to work on mutual projects.
It was a lucky move for Apple, since it has come across difficulty in securing its trademarks in other jurisdictions. For example, Brazil courts have recently ruled that iPHONE is legally owned there by IGB Electronica S.A., who filed for the trademark in 2000. Likewise, in Mexico, iFONE (in association with telecommunications) is registered to the Mexican company iFONE S.A. Mexican courts have ruled it can operate alongside Apple, despite its registration for iPHONE (which is registered without reference to telecommunications). Apple was also initially unable to secure the trademark iPAD in China, and eventually bought the trademark for a cool 60 million dollars.
Registering a trademark first, and early in the marketing process, is a great advantage. Contact me if you would like to register a trademark.