Apple has lost its injunction bid that would have allowed it to continue using the “iPhone” trade name on products sold in Mexico. A Mexico City court handed down the ruling on Thursday, saying Apple’s brand is too phonetically similar to iFone, a brand belonging to a Mexican company that registered the 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.
The iFone trade name was registered in Mexico in 2003, four years before Apple registered the iPhone trade name. Apple still attempted to gain sole control over the brand in the year after the iPhone first launched in Mexico. Efforts that have proved unsuccessful.
A Mexican court cited the earlier registration in refusing Apple’s request. The Mexican firm later countersued for damages, which possibly amount to 40% of the Mexican iPhone sales revenue. iFone’s countersuit also sought to block Apple from selling its phone under the iPhone name in Mexico.
iFone sells communications systems and services, including interfaces for IP-based telephone calls, virtual office services, and software for switching services.
It remains to be seen what effect the decision will have on the Mexican smartphone market, but Telcel and Movistar, the number one and two Mexican carriers, are scheduled to begin selling the iPhone today. It is unknown how quickly the sales ban might go into effect, or if the two companies can come to a financial settlement that would allow Apple to continue to use the iPhone name in Mexico.