Apple Loses 'iPhone' Name Rights in Mexico over Phonetic Similarity [Updated]

Electronista reports that Apple has lost a court case in Mexico over the rights to the "iPhone" name in that country, with the court ruling that the name is too phonetically similar to that of telecommunications company iFone, which registered its trade name in 2003.

The decision stems from a legal action that Apple initially filed in 2009 requesting that the company cease using the iFone brand in order to head off the possibility of consumer confusion.

El Universal reports that the iFone trade name was registered in Mexico in 2003, some four years before Apple did so. Nonetheless, Apple sought unsuccessfully to gain sole control over the brand in the year after the iPhone first launched in Mexico.

Spanish news agency Efe has a bit more on the situation, quoting a lawyer for iFone as saying that this is the third time Apple has lost in this case.

ifone 5
It is unclear exactly what the next steps are for Apple and iFone, including whether additional appeals are possible. Apple is not likely to simply abandon the iPhone name in Mexico, and would thus almost certainly attempt to reach a settlement with iFone that would enable it to continue using the iPhone trade name in the country.

Update 1:21 PM: The Verge clarifies some of the confusion about the situation, noting that the court ruling has no impact on Apple's ability to sell the iPhone in Mexico and relates strictly to one trademark class.

As you'd expect, companies like Apple file to protect ultra valuable trademarks like "iPhone" in every class they can come up with an argument for, since it protects against infringement and brand dilution. That's where iFone comes in — it has a single Mexican trademark on the word "iFone" in Class 38, which covers telecommunication services. Apple runs a few of those, like iMessage and FaceTime, and indeed, it has a Class 38 US trademark on "iPhone."

Apple already owns two iPhone trademarks in Mexico in Class 9 and Class 28, which covers electronic game devices. But in 2009, Apple's lawyers decided iFone's Mexican Class 38 mark wasn't being actively used, and they filed a lawsuit to try and get it canceled so they could register their own pending Class 38 mark on "iPhone." iFone obviously disagreed and convinced the Mexican courts that they were still using the mark in commerce, which is where today's ruling comes from — Apple lost another round of appeals trying to cancel the iFone mark in Class 38.

The report goes on to note that reports of an injunction or fines against Apple are incorrect and are in fact related to what iFone is seeking in a countersuit, a suit that has yet to proceed to trial.

Related Forum: iPhone

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Top Rated Comments

0029937 Avatar
152 months ago
iCaramba!
Score: 73 Votes (Like | Disagree)
grimace2 Avatar
152 months ago
Apple Started It

Apple deserved to lose... they picked this fight to begin with! The initial cease and desist lawsuit against iFone was a real scumbag move by Apple.

Reminds me of Monster Cable suing every company that used the term "Monster" for anything!

Apple is nothing more than a trademark troll, plain and simple.
Score: 70 Votes (Like | Disagree)
deannnnn Avatar
152 months ago
Can Apple just stop suing everyone already? Jeez.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GenesisST Avatar
152 months ago
Time to dip into the warchest and pay these fools to get over it.

"These fools"? They registered in 2003, then Apple sued in 2009 and they fought back. It doesn't seemed like they were going at Apple in the first place.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
walie Avatar
152 months ago
Yet another dumb ruling. iPhone is "different" than ifone... Duh!!

:( :( :( :(

What pool of resources are these countries getting their judges from?!?

Please comment on Apple's suit on Amazon over "App Store" vs "Appstore"
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
everything-i Avatar
152 months ago
That's crazy, you can't expect an established company to change its name just because it sounds like one of your products. This is just wrong on so many levels.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)