Carriers in Mexico are no longer allowed to make use of the word “iPhone,” according to a new report from the Mexican publication El Universal. The news outlet reports that the ruling comes from the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI)and is based on the fact that the phonetically identical sounding “iFone” trademark is already owned by a small call center in Mexico. The trademark has been held since 2003 — four years before Apple released its first generation iPhone.
While Apple was acquitted as being at fault in the case, due to the fact that it is not considered a telecommunication services provider, Mexican carriers did receive blame, on the basis that they do provide such services.
This case is one that has been rumbling on since 2009, when Apple first attempted to gain control of the iFone trademark to avoid confusing consumers in Mexico. However, the lawsuit was unsuccessful, and Apple then lost an appeal in late 2012.
This time it seems like things might have come to a conclusion, as the infringing carriers — which include Telcel, Iusacell and Movistar — have been fined an undisclosed amount and ordered to remove the term “iPhone” from advertising and marketing materials within 15 days. iFone also has the option of suing the carriers for damages. While the carriers can continue to carry and sell the iPhone, they are now unable to advertise it by name. Even with Apple’s talent for advertising, that may prove a challenge too far.
We’ll keep you updated on how this story plays out.
Source: El Universal