India is a huge growing market for the iPhone, but a trademark dispute brought by a local Indian company called iVoice Enterprises could throw a wrench in those plans — by attempting to bar Apple from using the handset name it made famous.
You see, as it turns out, back in early 2007 iVoice Enterprises tried to tap into what was then the start of India’s mobile revolution.
Their name for an affordable cellphone? iFon, phonetically pronounced “iPhone.”
The device never made it to market, though, and after Apple announced the iPhone we all know and love, iVoice’s director claims that, “investors backed out and sources of funds dried up. Our overseas investors and partners did not support us, leading to irrecoverable financial impact on our business model. As such, we could not launch the phone.”
Based on that summary, it seems that the case would get laughed out of court, but that doesn’t appear to have happened. In fact, India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) is reportedly asking Apple to officially respond to the trademark issue.
While the idea that Apple could somehow be barred from calling its mobile handsets the iPhone in India sounds (and most likely is) farfetched, it’s not without precedent. In late 2012, Apple lost an appeal that means carriers in Mexico can no longer make use of the word “iPhone,” since it infringes on yet another “iFone” trademark — this time owned by a small call center in Mexico, which has owned the name since 2003.
Source: Times of India