The Mexican Supreme Court has upheld a November lower court ruling that barred Apple from registering the “iPhone” trademark in the country. Apple had been attempting to register the trademark for the marketing of telecommunications services in the country. In response to that request, another company called “iFone” argued that Apple’s naming convention interfered with their own products’ efforts at marketability.
The original Apple lawsuit was filed by iFone SA, a small call center company located in Mexico. The company filed a lawsuit seeking damages against Apple and three other smartphone carriers.
Apple still retains the right to sell the iPhone in Mexico after retaining two trademarks for the name. The iFone SA lawsuit only pertained to telecommunications services and not the sale of iPhone devices. Apple attempted to file a telecommunications patents with the name in 2009. The Apple request was blocked by the Mexican Industrial Property Institute.
Apple sued to have the iFone name revoked, arguing that the trademark had expired. iFone SA was able to show in court that it was properly using the trademark. iFone attorney Eduardo Gallastegui notes that the courts upheld ruling in favor of iFone means the company can pursue its lawsuit and seek damages against Apple.
Gallastegui notes, “Our main interest is to defend our brand Apple started the controversy, their first step was to file a lawsuit, they didn’t previously approach the company.”
A violation of property rights in Mexico can bring with it penalties up to 40 percent of sales. It is not clear at this time what type of damages are expected should iFone SA uphold its case.
Apple has not responded at this time to the Mexican Supreme Courts ruling on the case.
Do you think iFone SA is trying to take advantage of Apple and its deep pocket, or did Apple overstep its bounds in pursuing the expired trademark?