Apple’s iPhone was in a legal tussle with a Mexican telecommunications firm which too had rolled out a phone by the name iFone. As the reports reveal, the Mexican telecom services and systems company had registered the name ifone for one of its phone in 2003 while Apple introduced the iPhone to the Mexican market in 2007, a gap of four years.
The company had opposed the introduction of the iPhone by Apple with a name similar to its ifone and the matter had taken a legal course in 2009 when the Mexican firm sued the California based company, Apple.
The declaration of the legal battle in favor of the Mexican telecom services and systems company means that Apple would have to pay a huge compensation payment to the Mexican firm. The loss of the legal battle also means that the Mexican firm can rightfully use the brand and name.
Lawyer for the Mexican firm, Eduardo Gallart on winning the legal battle over Apple was visibly pleased and stated that Apple would have to compensate the Mexican company for using the iPhone name which was similar to ifone. Although Gallart denied that any particular amount of compensation had been decided upon between the companies, he said that as per the law, the company violating the rules would have to give 40 percent of the sale price of the service that violated the rules.
There was no response from the media relations office of Apple when contacted on the issue.
The case of Apple vs. iFone case is unique as it provides the basis for important trade marks law. ‘iFone’ and ‘iPhone’ can be considered identical trade marks since they sound identical, phonetically.
Jamie White who is the solicitor director of Pod Legal informed that just as in United States and Mexico, the Australian Trade Marks Act has a provision that if a trade mark has been registered in the Trade Marks Register continuously for a period of three years, but the owner of the trade mark did not use the trade mark during the said period of three years, the trade mark can be removed from the Register.
Apple in its attempt to use the trade mark ‘iPhone’ tried to remove the ‘iFone’ trade mark from the Trade Mark Register on the grounds that the owner of the trade mark ‘iFone’ had not used it during the course of the trade. However, Apple’s point was proven false as the Mexican firm that registered the ‘iFone’ trade mark was able to establish that it had indeed used the trade mark because of which the name ‘iFone’ remained in the Register.