updated 07:31 pm EDT, Fri November 2, 2012
Mexican iFone registered trade name four years before Apple
[Details of the case were severely misinterpreted by the original source, corrected version below] Apple has lost an injunction bid that would have allowed it to continue selling iPhone-branded products in Mexico. A court in Mexico City handed down a ruling last Thursday denying Apple's injunction request on the grounds that the iPhone brand is too phonetically similar to iFone, a brand belonging to a Mexican company that registered its name four years prior to Apple's filing for the iPhone brand mark. The decision stems from a legal action that Apple initially filed in 2009 requesting that the company cease using the iFone brand in order to head off the possibility of consumer confusion.
El Universal reports that the iFone trade name was registered in Mexico in 2003, some four years before Apple did so. Nonetheless, Apple sought unsuccessfully to gain sole control over the brand in the year after the iPhone first launched in Mexico.
A Mexican court cited the earlier trade name registration in refusing Apple's request, and the Mexican firm later countersued for damages, which could amount to 40 percent of iPhone sales revenue in Mexico. iFone's countersuit also sought to block Apple from selling the iPhone under its current name in Mexico.
iFone is a telecommunications company selling communications systems and services, including interfaces for IP-based telephone calls, virtual office services, and software for switching systems. It counts Microsoft Maxcom, Axtel, and Avay among its clients.
The decision could have a considerable impact on the Mexican smartphone market. Telcel and Movistar, numbers one and two among Mexican carriers, are scheduled to begin selling the iPhone 5 on Friday. It is not certain how quickly the sales ban will go into effect or if the two companies will come to some sort of financial settlement.
Update: Sharp eyes at The Verge have noticed and noted that the decision does not, in fact, prohibit Apple from selling iPhone-branded products in Mexico. The decision, instead, reaffirmed iFone's right to continue using its brand name. iFone's countersuit is reportedly still pending, iFone's demands -- a portion of iPhone sales and a potential sales ban -- have not yet been enforced. Electronista regrets and apologizes for the error in reporting.