As reported by El Universal, Apple has been acquitted in a trademark lawsuit involving its “iPhone” brand and a Mexican telecommunications company with a phonetically identical name, “iFone”. As announced by the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI), it found the “iPhone” mark as infringing Mexico’s iFone trademark, but only as it applies to telecommunications services.
Considering the fact that Apple doesn’t offer its own telecommunications services, the iPhone maker has been duly pardoned of trademark infringement. However, IMPI is imposing a monetary fine on local mobile carriers that carry the iPhone, including Lusacell, Movistar, and Telcel, and require them to remove the “iPhone” branding from their advertising materials within 15 days.
The trademark dispute started in 2009 when Apple tried to register the “iPhone” name in Mexico. But another name with a similar pronunciation was already taken by a local technology services company called iFone. The iFone trade name was already registered in Mexico in 2003, four years before Apple’s iPhone was even launched. In March 2013, Apple’s appeal over its exclusive use of the “iPhone” name in Mexico was denied by Mexico’s Supreme Court. With the new IMPI ruling in effect, iFone can prepare civil suits to recover damages that are associated with the telco’s using of the iPhone mark. This would amount to as much as 40 percent of profits obtained by selling the iPhone under Mexican law. Alternatively, the local Mexican iPhone carriers can appeal the IMPI ruling to the Federal Court of Fiscal and Administrative Justice.