June 09, 2014

MIIP Hangs Up on Use of iPhone in Advertisements

Greetings from Mexico! I'm spending the week at the beautiful Casa Om for a yoga retreat. In light of the fact that I'm in Mexico, it seems relevant that I highlight some big news in Mexican intellectual property law.

Last week, Mexico's Institute for Intellectual Property ruled that the use of the mark iPhone in advertisements by mobile phone carriers in Mexico encroached upon a Mexican company's rights in the mark iFone.


In 2003, the Mexican firm iFone S.A. de C.V. registered the mark iFone for use in connection with specialized telephone service for call centers and businesses. This was long before before Apple registered its now famous iPhone mark in 2007 for the ubiquitous mobile device. Though iFone doesn't make mobile telephones, the Mexican Institute for Intellectual Property still found that use of the mark iPhone by mobile carriers was confusingly similar to iFone, particularly because the two marks are phonetically similar.

The institute said several Mexican mobile phone carriers must pay a fine of over $100,000 and cease using "iPhone" as a promotional name for their calling plans. Apple isn't specifically covered by this ruling but iFone is apparently considering filing suit for trademark infringement against Apple.

This isn't the first time the mark iPhone has been controversial. Apple faced issues with Gradiente SA in Brazil and Cisco Systems in the US over rights in the mark iPhone.

We will remain on hold waiting to see how this dispute regarding iFone and iPhone is resolved.

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