Mexican trademark body rules for iFone in iPhone services case

MEXICO CITY Fri Jun 6, 2014 10:05am IST

Customers wait in line to buy Apple's 3G iPhone at Telcel Center in Mexico City July 11, 2008. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar/Files

Customers wait in line to buy Apple's 3G iPhone at Telcel Center in Mexico City July 11, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Daniel Aguilar/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's trademark body said on Thursday it had ruled in favor of local telecoms company iFone in a dispute over the marketing of iPhone services, opening the door to potential damage claims against the country's biggest mobile providers.

Apple Inc, maker of iPhone smartphones, was not affected by the ruling by the Mexican Institute for Industrial Property (IMPI) against America Movil, Telefonica and Iusacell for advertising mobile phone subscriber plans with the name "iPhone" in the title.

"It's because a brand registered for products was being used for services," said a spokesman for the IMPI, which is part of Mexico's Economy Ministry.

"Apple doesn't have a problem because they just sell telephones," another official at the IMPI said.

The ruling fell in favor of iFone S.A. de C.V., a provider of telecoms services, because the iPhone brand was generating confusion with the Mexican company's business, the IMPI said.

Mexico's iFone registered its name in 2003, some four years before Apple introduced the iPhone, the IMPI noted.

The three main providers of cellphone services in Mexico face nominal fines payable to the government equivalent to up to 20,000 days of the minimum wage in Mexico City, the IMPI said. That implies a sum of up to 1.35 million pesos ($104,700).

In future, the companies will not be allowed to market smartphone packages using the iPhone name, the IMPI said.

Apple's copyright of the iPhone was unaffected by the decision, the trademark body said. However, the ruling now gives iFone the option of pursuing damages in civil courts against the three phone companies in Mexico for loss of business.

The decision, which stems from a suit brought by iFone in 2012, was unusual in uniting three bitter rivals in Mexico's telecommunications market, which is dominated by America Movil, a giant company controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim.

Iusacell is joint owned by Televisa and TV Azteca, who dominate the television market.

Apple in 2009 tried to sue iFone over the iPhone name. But the U.S. company eventually lost the case.

The three phone companies have the right to appeal the decision, the IMPI said. A spokesman for America Movil said the company was still considering its response.

($1 = 12.8899 Mexican Pesos)

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Jean Luis Arce; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Obama In India

Reuters Showcase

RK Laxman Dead

RK Laxman Dead

'Common Man' cartoonist RK Laxman dead at 93  Full Article 

Banking Revolution

Banking Revolution

India turns to corner shops, mobile phones for banking revolution.  Full Article 

Nuclear Group

Nuclear Group

China urges India to take steps to satisfy standards of NSG  Full Article 

Gold Market

Gold Market

Chinese gold demand holds up ahead of holiday, Indian buying weak  Full Article 

India-U.S. Relations

India-U.S. Relations

Column - U.S. and India should join to balance China's rise  Full Article 

Padma Bhushan

Padma Bhushan

India honours Bill Gates with civilian award  Full Article 

Fashionable Modi

Fashionable Modi

When Modi met Obama, his name was all over - his suit  Full Article 

New Greek PM

New Greek PM

Greek leftist Tsipras sworn in as PM to fight bailout terms  Full Article 

Australian Open

Australian Open

Venus fireworks illuminate Australia Day  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage