The truth behind Apple’s Mexican ‘iPhone’ trademark battle

If you’ve paid a visit to the internet recently, then you’re probably aware of the ‘breaking news’ that Apple may lose the rights to sell its iPhone in Mexico. In short, the iPhone is still available in the country, and there is no injunction in place. However, it would be a shame not to hear about the interesting story behind it all, so here we go.

It started with a small Mexican call center called iFone, that applied for its name to be trademarked nine years ago, in 2003 (4 years before the iPhone’s debut), and sure enough, Apple came along, guns a blazing, with a lawsuit against the tiny company. In essence, Apple was left defeated, and the internet being the place it is, people immediately began bashing away at their computers exclaiming that the iPhone will no longer be available in Mexico because of the lawsuit, and of course, people have been freaking out about it.

Now, for anyone wondering on why the whole thing came about (no-one was, but I’ll continue anyway), trademarks are filed under classes, and the best way to describe this is through an example, so say, for instance, that I wanted to trademark the name ‘Apple’. If Apple owns a trademark for its name in class 9, (which it does), then I could not file my trademark. However, I could file it in a different class (different classes are for different things, e.g: Class 9 – computers, software, cameras, and mobile phones, and class 17 – rubber goods), then, so long as the name wasn’t already trademarked, then I’d be able to file for my trademark.

The case with Apple and iFone was that iFone owned a trademark for its name in class 38, which is for telecommunication services. Now, since Apple owns several telecommunication services, like FaceTime and iMessage, and owns trademarks in the class in other countries, so it naturally wanted to trademark ‘iPhone’ under class 38 in Mexico, and due to ‘iPhone’ being dangerously close to ‘iFone’, Apple appealed to the court saying that the small business wasn’t actively using the name. As it turned out, iFone was using its name, and Apple lost the appeal, but no injunction was put in place, so the whole thing was simply blown out of proportion by the internet.


Via: The Verge

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  • MasterSyrron

    Apple should just buy iFone.  Just for the trademarks, of course.

  • Looks like they’re getting paranoid. They file a case to anything that has any similarity to any of their products, whether its about the appearance or even just the names.