Cisco has given Apple a further extension of the deadline to respond to its lawsuit concerning the iPhone name, the company said late on Thursday.

Apple was hit with a trademark infringement lawsuit from Cisco Systems the day after it unveiled its new mobile phone under the name iPhone at January's Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Cisco says its Linksys division owns the trademark on 'iPhone' and filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court for Northern California seeking an injunction against Apple using the name.

On Thursday evening Cisco said it had agreed to a request from Apple for more time.

"Cisco has agreed to give Apple an extension until Wednesday, 21 February," the company said in a brief statement. "Cisco is fully committed to using the extra time to reach a mutually beneficial resolution."

When Cisco sued Apple on 10 January it revealed that the two companies had been talking about the iPhone name for about two years and were close to a deal on 8 January, which was the day before Macworld Expo. When Apple CEO Steve Jobs went ahead on 9 January and announced the phone he did so before an agreement between the two companies had been reached and that pushed Cisco to file its lawsuit.

A previous extension was granted Apple by Cisco on 1 February at which time Cisco said it wanted an agreement on "trademark use and interoperability". Those words lend credibility to earlier media reports that Cisco might back down over the trademark issue if the iPhone were made compatible with its networking gear.

Just how serious Apple views the issue or how close the current talks are to a deal is unknown.

A few days after being hit with the lawsuit Natalie Kerris, Apple's Director of music public relations, told Macworld that the company thought the lawsuit was "silly".

Linksys launched its iPhone in late December, just as buzz was building about the possibility of a mobile phone and music player combo from Apple coming at Macworld. The Linksys iPhone is a cordless telephone with base station that attaches to the internet. It means calls can be made from the handset over Skype without the need for a personal computer.

Apple's iPhone is a GSM mobile phone married with an iPod that runs on a version of the Mac OS X operating system. The phone is due to be released in the US in the middle of this year through a deal with Cingular. Models for international markets are due out at the end of the year.