This article discusses about the ethical dilemmas faced by organisations in relation to trademark laws and its usage to capture the market. Trademark gives an identity to the company and this paper has researched the iPhone trademark litigation between App le Inc and Cisco.

There are different laws and protocols to specifically protect the issue of trademark in an organisational environment. Humans from the beginning have evolved with the usage of symbols to communicate in its primitive fo rm. A trademark in this regard is a short -cut to create a symbolic identity in the customer¶s mind about the product. This is exploited by the marketer to draw a congenial symbol in the minds of the customer to infuse the need (Mishwaka Rubber & Woolen Man uf. Co., 1942). According to the courts the issue of trademark has been divided into five different categories based on the relationship between the mark and the underlying product: arbitrary, fanciful, suggestive, descriptive and generic (Two Pesos Inc v Taco Cabana, Inc., 1992). Resnick (2003) stated that judges and legislators consider the Intellectual Property (IP) laws when approaching the issue of trademarks. He further states that trademark rights can be morally defended under a utilitarian theory of ethics. Rawls (1999) discussed the theory of justice and morality based on the use of ³veil of ignorance´ which would look at the element of trademark without any bias or pressure influenced by the society. Stakeholder theory asserts that a business sho uld take into consideration the interests of all the stakeholders before finalising on any decision. Stakeholders are those people or group of people who are affected or can affect the decisions and actions of an organisation (Gibson, 200 0).

The article is highly relevant in the context that it discusses the issue of ethics and in relation the element of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The communications industry is highly dynamic with innovations taking place at a rapid pace and the issue of trademarks and patents is considered to be of great importance for maintaining proprietary rights of the organisation to achieve competitive advantage in the market place.

The authors of this paper discuss the important aspect of trad emarks and its relation to ethics. The issue of iPhone trademark has been well covered and the

corporate manoeuvres undertaken by Apple Inc in terms of filing Intent -to-use applications in different parts of the world to gain a ³bootstrap´ entry into the U S market were questionable and the same has been highlighted in this research. There has been considerable debate in the aspect of gaining a moral high ground through the usage of different tactics as far as Apple was concerned the company wanted to retain the ³i´ family brand as they have multiple products in that arena. However, Cisco had the legal rights via U.S trademark law. The authors discuss the different theories to support the case Utilitarianism which means ³advocating a position which offers the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people´. Based on this concept the usage of the trademark by Apple is justified as they were able to harness the same which Cisco even holding on to the rights for so long did not make any proper usage of the right. The other concept which is discussed is the aspect of Justice Theory, under this theory the authors state that the actions of the company¶s were unethical due to the fact that they comport with the principles of fairness, independence, and self respect?

The issue of ethics were once again brought forward in the settlement which was arrived at the end by both the parties where both the parties came out wounded in terms of ethical issues as Cisco had the legal right to retain the brand, however as the company did not make proper usage of the right and the company initiated the dispute which has diminished its legally superior position. Apple had presented the moral side of the argument and it remained silent at critical times when Cisco filed the law suit there by gaining the moral high ground in this regard.

The reviewer has some of the following recommendations:


The issue of trademark violations need to be looked in to to avoid such pitfalls in future as Apple has been able to take over the legal rights of Cisco by taking on the moral high ground. Hence, adequate measures should be put in place to avoid recurrence of the same or the party which holds the right should be able to put to use the right which it holds to enable the sustainability of the utilitarianism theory. The international bodies should work in cohesion before accepting any new patent claims as that would ensure the avoidance of such matters as the cohesion did not exist between the patent office of Trinidad and Tobago and US, the company was able to file the intent application without the same being verified in any other country.


Gibson, K. (2000), The Moral Basis of Stakeholder Theory, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 26, pp. 245±257 Mishawaka Rubber &Woolen Manuf. Co. v. S.S. Kresge Co., 316 U.S. 203, 205 (1942) Resnik, D. B. (2003), A Pluralistic Account of Intellectual Property, Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 46, no. 4, pp. 319. Rawls, J. (1999), A Theory of Justice, Revised Ed (Harvard, Cambridge, MA) Two Pesos, Inc. v. Taco Cabana, Inc., 505 U.S. 763 (1992)

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