Apple has lost the right to use the word "iPhone" in Mexico after its trademark lawsuit against Mexican telco iFone backfired.
Judges sitting in Mexico's 18th District Appellate Court have ruled that iFone is the only company allowed to use the "iPhone" or "iFone" brands in the North American country.
The decision marks the end of a three-year trademark battle launched by Apple in 2009. It was an unwise move. iFone registered its trademark in 2003, Apple registered iPhone in 2007. Unable to argue that iFone was too similar to iPhone, Apple lost its lawsuit. iFone then countersued and won. Apple appealed last week and was rebuffed by the court, according to newspaper El Universal.
As a result Apple lost the right to trade using the iPhone brand, and the ruling could be applied retroactively: iFone may be able to claim a cut of the profits Apple has made using the iPhone name in Mexico since it launched five years ago.
iFone's lawyer Eduardo Gallástegui told the Mexican newspaper that the next stage of the legal process will involve cheques from Apple. Here's a rough translation:
All that remains is processing claims for invasion of brand. Additionally, they face a sanction of up to 20,000 days at minimum wage rate, and iFone shall be entitled to claim compensation for damage caused by the invasion of their brand. These damages may not be less than 40 per cent of the sales of iPhone services in Mexico, as provided by law.
Presumably Apple is going to have to reach deep into itds record-breaking profits to smooth this one over. And after this ruling, it will have few cards to play when brokering a deal with iFone to licence the trademark in future. It's not great timing, with the iPhone 5 due to arrive in Mexico later today.
Coming within a week of Apple's humiliating public apology in UK over a patent lawsuit that it lost, Apple's habit of launching aggressive lawsuits is starting to bite it on the bum. ®