A Tale of Two Logos – One Moniker

Have a look at these two logos:

Confused? While not the most high profile logos in the market, they both have been in use for at least 18 months in the VoIP market space but only the one with a five year history is registered. So who is using a logo similar to the VoIPvoice logo (above, left) owned by PDT (Promotion and Display Technology Limited), pioneer manufacturer of VoIP phone hardware under the VoIPvoice brand?

Check any CD included in the package for any of the Cisco’s Linksys VoIP phones (woops, now iPhone) line – some of which are Skype Certified; check out the Linksys Product Guide (pp. 41-51) for their VoIP phone (now iPhone) product line. The photo at the right comes from the CD for the CIT200 that I purchased on behalf of a client in December, 2005. Note that is also includes both Linksys and Cisco logos. While not their primary logo, seems like Linksys/Cisco is also trying to build a brand around the term VoIPvoice.

In February, 2005, Skype Journal first made reference to PDT’s VoIPvoice in a post about a new Firebox VoIP CyberPhone. April, 2005 saw the first review of PDT’s VoIPvoice Cyberphone K in Digital Lifestyles’ weblog. In May 2005 Stuart Henshall reviewed the Cyberphone K he had seen at CES 2005. So when Cisco/Linksys first announced its CIT200 in August, 2005, Stuart Henshall assumed that Cisco and PDT had done some form of business arrangement due to Cisoc/Linksys’ use of a very similar logo. Note that the Cisco VoIPvoice logo appears also on the “base station” in the accompanying picture of this product (in Stuart’s post). Confusion commences!

In May 2006 I was introduced to the VoIPvoice Cyberphone line, including the CyberSpeaker W, the UConnect and the Cyberphone for Mac — all imprinted with the VoIPvoice logo and wrote some reviews. Use of the VoIPvoice logo appeared on both the handset and the CD as shown at left. So now I had two different manufacturers’ products using similar logos in my office.

Further use of this logo by Cisco/Linksys can be seen in the(Linksys) iPhone packaging picture in this recent Engadget post. And one of the comments reads:

Mike…look at the picture in the post. Cisco are using someone else’s trademark! i use a voipvoice skype phone and their logo is exactly the same as cisco’s! the trademark is registered to a uk company!

and cisco are complaining about someone else?

Seems like all the packaging, product and collateral materials have extensive use of this logo. Hmmmmmm. Time for some investigation.

First I did a Google Search on trademark registrations. Turns out that the VoIPvoice logo was registered with the UK Patent Office in September, 2002 (application filed in February, 2002). The domain name registration for voipvoice.com was also created in February, 2002. Checking out the USPTO registrations PDT filed a US trademark application in April 2006 (Serial No. 78863329). USPTO has issued an Office Action Letter (Sept. 30) which basically confirms their right to registration of the logo (and specifically stating a search shows it had never been previously registered); however, there is an outstanding issue that is yet to be resolved regarding the exclusive use of the terms “VoIP” and “voice” in text.

In the next post in this series: a look at the arguments involving the use of the VoIPvoice logo and trade mark that parallel those used by Cisco in their claim against Apple for use of the iPhone name. In the last sentence, Cisco’s SVP and General Counsel states:

“The action we have taken today is about not using people’s property without permission”

(Note that last week Apple and Cisco agreed to resume negotiations over use of the iPhone name.) In a third post in this series, we’ll interview principles of PDT and attempt to obtain comments from Cisco.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel PDT should approach this issue?

Full disclosure: I attempted to install the Cisco phone just over a year ago but could not get it to work and could not find any readily accessible technical support at the time; so it sits here. On the other hand, there are three major reasons I continue to use the VoIPvoice phones on my laptop:

  • Installation is hassle-free; the product works straight out of the box; I have even had a couple of non-technical people install it successfully and start Skype calls.
  • The VoIPvoice products handle Windows Sound Devices appropriately such that I can be on a Skype call while listening to Windows Media Player or my SlingBox. Effectively the VoIPvoice products have their own “sound card” whereas other Skype phone products I have tried either do not have that level of independence or have conflicts with an internal sound card on my laptop PC.
  • When I am at home I plug in the UConnect and use my 12-year old Nortel phone for both Bell Canada and Skype calls. Pickup the phone, I’m on Bell; dial ** and I’m on Skype. When I go on the road, I carry the Cyberspeaker W – plug it into my laptop; it uses the same device drivers as the UConnect, and, with it, Skype becomes my long distance service in a hotel room or at any WiFi hotspot.

I also use an RTX Dualphone on my desktop PC; it is associated with the home phone line.

Powered by Qumana

About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.