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Apple pounds e-wallet firm in trademark tiff

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Apple has been accused of applying double standards to trademark disputes by a UK security developer.

The launch of Apple's much-anticipated iPhone device last week kicked off a trade-mark dispute between the firm and Cisco, which secured trademark in 2000 when it bought Infogear, the original maker of iPhone-branded products. In response, Apple has said that the word iPhone should be considered generic, by which reckoning both Apple and Cisco should be able to use the name without confusion.

Over recent months Apple has been sending cease and desist letters to firms applying for trade mark registration with names containing the phrases "pod"and "ipod" in their monikers, such as Watford-based security developer Securipod. The UK firm, which is developing products designed to frustrate identity theft and credit card fraud, accuses Apple of applying different standards in its wrangle with Cisco than its lawyers have argued in its disputes with smaller firms.

Securipod said it is "bemused" about how the biometric wallets it's developing might be confused with an iPodMP3 player but an Apple iPhone mobile device could not be confused with Cisco's iPhone. Apple's conduct amounts to bullying tactics in laying claim to the name Securipod, the UK security product developer alleges.

The firm said the wrangle is diverting management resources at Securipod away from plans to release its first product this summer, a biometric wallet designed to help combat ID theft and credit card fraud called 'biouno'. Securipod's design and marketing manager Mark Watson described Apple's behaviour as an attempt "write its own rules for trademarks".

We asked Apple to address Securipod's criticism of its trademark practices but the consumer electronics giant said it would rather not comment on pending litigation. ®

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