Apple was defeated in a key legal battle over the iPhone name in Mexico just the day before it planned to enter the country with the iPhone 5.
A Mexican company with the name iFone registered its trade name well ahead of Apple registering the iPhone in 2003, which brought the company a four-year advantage before the iPhone was introduced in the US.
Considering the above, and the fact that “iPhone” is too phonetically similar to “iFone”, on Thursday a Mexico City court rejected Apple’s bid to continue selling iPhones. The decision is the result of a legal battle initiated by Apple back in 2009, which sought to stop the Mexican company using the iFone brand name in order to avoid consumer confusion.
However, the Mexican company rapidly responded to Apple’s filing: it countersued for damages that could go up to 40% of iPhone sales revenue in Mexico, as the Electronista sources inform. In addition, the Mexican company sought to block the Cupertino company from selling the popular handsets in Mexico, as long as they are called iPhone.
While the ruling is a clear defeat for Apple, we don’t know whether this will result in a complete ban of iPhones in Mexico or whether iFone will try to obtain a fee from Apple to use the trade name. Stay tuned — we’ll keep you posted.