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After Trademark Dispute, Mexican Carriers Can No Longer Use iPhone Name In Ads

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the take-that-name-out-of-your-mouth dept.

Advertising 53

An anonymous reader writes "The Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) on Thursday announced it has absolved Apple of wrongdoing in a trademark lawsuit surrounding the iPhone's infringement of a local telecommunications company marketing the phonetically identical 'iFone' brand. The logic behind the ruling was based on the difference in the two companies' markets. While iFone sells telecommunications services, Apple sells smartphones (but not actual telecommunications service). Because cellular carriers offer telecommunications services, the IMPI ruled that carriers have to remove the word 'iPhone' from all marketing materials within the next 15 days."

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Seems correct (2)

Parafilmus (107866) | about 4 months ago | (#47191837)

I don't know anything about Mexican trademark law, but the decision seems fair on the surface.
If the "iFone" brand was in use beforehand, then I can see how "iPhone" would be confusing.

Maybe Apple or the carriers will cut a deal... or maybe their marketing material will just start referring to "apple phones."

Re:Seems correct (1)

abhi_beckert (785219) | about 4 months ago | (#47192155)

Maybe Apple or the carriers will cut a deal... or maybe their marketing material will just start referring to "apple phones."

Apple is also a trademark, so they are not allowed to use that in advertising either.

I'm not familiar with Mexican law either but these laws are pretty well unified by international treaties. You cannot use another company's trademark in your advertising material unless you have permission. Any carrier who sells the iPhone to customers would have permission to use the trademark, so this tells me the carrier does not sell iPhones and therefore has no business using iPhone in their ads.

Re:Seems correct (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 4 months ago | (#47192171)

Er... Why would Apple sue vendor using the Apple trademark to sell Apple products? That's what trademarks are *for*.

This is more like, imagine the iPhone was called instead the SpryntPhone. Sprint, the *carrier*, would object to Verizon and AT&T selling "SpyrntPhones" because it sounds like "Sprint Phones". They wouldn't object to those carriers selling "Samsung" phones because that doesn't affect their trademark.

Re:Seems correct (5, Insightful)

sribe (304414) | about 4 months ago | (#47192451)

I'm not familiar with Mexican law either but these laws are pretty well unified by international treaties. You cannot use another company's trademark in your advertising material unless you have permission.

Bullshit, actually. You can use trademarks all day long without permission, so long as you are referring to the actual products instead of some knock-off, nor using them in any other misleading way.

Re:Seems correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192795)

Jeebus, what backwards country are you living in if you need Apples permission to advertise the fact you're selling their phones?
When a supermarket puts out a catalogue do they have to ring up every food manufacturer to ask if it's ok to sell their things? What nonsense is this?

Re:Seems correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47193751)

In the European Union, even if you source entirely genuine products legally from a market outside the EU, the company can prevent you from being able to sell them if you mention their trademarked name. Yeah, it's fucked up as shit, but it's the way it works over here.

Decision seems dubious actually (1)

Camael (1048726) | about 4 months ago | (#47192915)

From TFA:-

In March 2013 the case ended with the decision that Apple had in fact not infringed on the mark. The logic behind the ruling was based on the difference in the two companies’ markets. While iFone sells telecommunications services, Apple sells smartphones (but not actual telecommunications service). Because of this, Apple would be allowed to continue using the name.

So far so good, you need to register your TM for specific markets. Thats why the music company that owns the Beatles' music and the tech company that produces smartphones both can use the name "Apple".

Because cellular carriers offer telecommunications services, the IMPI (Mexico’s equivalent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) ruled that carriers selling the iPhone could no longer use the name in their advertising materials.

This is the dodgy part. Normally TM is only infringed if the TM that you use is either identical to the registered mark, or so similar that it causes confusion among the public causing them to mistake your goods/services for that of the registered TM holder.

From a logical point of view, the whole idea behind telcos flogging iPhones in the first place is to use a well known premium product, the iPhone to induce potential customers to sign with them. It would be counter productive if the potential customers were to somehow equate their offer with "iFone" services which do not have that cachet. Any way you look at it, it seems to be an abuse of TM law.

Re:Decision seems dubious actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47194985)

Thats why the music company that owns the Beatles' music and the tech company that produces smartphones both can use the name "Apple".

Um, not quite there skippy. That was a nearly 30-year battle between Apple Corps and Apple Computer which involved several court appearances and a half dozen settlement decisions. Don't trivialize it; it was not just a matter of different markets.

Re:Seems correct (1)

Mondor (704672) | about 4 months ago | (#47193853)

Well, there are agricultural companies in Mexico, who sell apples. And since they produce fruits, and Apple produces cellphones, but not fruits (see the logic?) the next day someone would try to use "apple phones" in marketing material, this would be ruled out as illegal. Because consumers would be very much confused.

Ads Disabled? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47191847)

How come my "Ads Disabled" setting no longer works on any browser on either of my computers? Why even have the checkbox there? To taunt me?

First and worst post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47191859)

Fuck Apple
Fuck mexico
Fuck phones
Fuck telecoms
Fuck wireless
Fuck 4g and 5g and 6g too
Fuck biscuits
Fuck technology
Fuck your mother
Fuck first posts
Fuck the word fuck
Fuck beta

Yo dawg (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about 4 months ago | (#47191863)

I heard you didn't like your iPhone so I took your iPhone out of your iFone

(Or something like that)

Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47191865)

The Solution. Apple just comes up with another name for the IPhone and sells the IPhone under that name in Mexico.

Re:Easy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47191867)

They should call it the rPhone, the first phone for mexican retards.

Re:Easy (2)

marciot (598356) | about 4 months ago | (#47191947)

The Solution. Apple just comes up with another name for the IPhone and sells the IPhone under that name in Mexico.

ayTeléfono!

Re:Easy (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | about 4 months ago | (#47193101)

Phonetically it would be eeTelefono. I was actually wondering why a Mexican company would sell something that phonetically is eefoneh. Are Mexican brands keeping track with the number of English words that Japanese complain about taking over their language?

Can they call it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47191891)

... "el teléfono de la manzana"?

How to advertise it then... (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 4 months ago | (#47191899)

In big letters: "This is not an iFone".
"We don't sell the iFone".
and so on.

Re:How to advertise it then... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47191919)

Your advertisements should be:

(in big letters)
"I do not like women"
"I take cocks up my ass"
"I dream of Justin Bieber busting a nut deep in my bowels."

wow (5, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47191937)

The summary is VERY misleading.

Real summary:
There was a telecom company named IFone.
4yrs later along came Apple with their IPhone.
Carriers in Mexico that competed with IFone, started carrying IPhones, and they started advertising as such.
Apple sued to try and take the trademark from the company. Even though the name clearly predated Apples.
IFone counter sued, and said that the name was confusing customers as to where to get their service.

The court said Apple could keep the name because they are in different industries. But the cross-advertising did, in fact, confuse consumers, so other Telecoms could not advertise with the word IPhone.

All this ruling does is let Apple continue to sell their phones in Mexico, and bar telecoms for advertising it along with their service.
IFone can still sue for damages. Apple will likely settle out of court as it's pretty clear they are going to lose.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47191981)

Never forget! Never again! [wikipedia.org]
The horror, the horror!

Re:wow (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192005)

That's exactly what the summary says...

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192031)

Agree. Maybe not exactly.. but I got the same jist from both 'summaries'

Re:wow (1)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 4 months ago | (#47192161)

Kinda.

The summary doesn't tell you who started the suit, that iFone predates the iPhone, or anything of that nature. It's not unknown for local entrepreneurs in developing countries to register a trademark they know a big American company is going to need, and then make a nuisance of themselves in local Courts until the Americans pay them to go away.

To find out that iFone are actually a decent company you have to either read the article (and we know that's not happening), or read this guy's summary.

Re:wow (1)

moronoxyd (1000371) | about 4 months ago | (#47193575)

Kinda.

It's not unknown for local entrepreneurs in developing countries to register a trademark they know a big American company is going to need, and then make a nuisance of themselves in local Courts until the Americans pay them to go away.

Why limit that to developing countries?
I'm sure the same happens all the time in the US with foreign trademarks that are expected to move to the US.
It definitely happend with domain names for well known trademarks and company names.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192115)

In other words: *nelson laugh*

Re:wow (2)

NicBenjamin (2124018) | about 4 months ago | (#47192157)

So basically Apple was dumb and sued when they were clearly wrong. Oh well.

They can afford the cash, and the solution for Mexican Cell companies is trivial: advertise you sell "Apple Phones," or "iOS phones."

Re:wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192201)

Apple did not sue. They got sued. So basically you were dumb enough to believe the poster when he was clearly wrong. Oh well.

Re:wow (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 4 months ago | (#47192299)

Better yet, ignore Apple entirely and focus on Samsung and the other Android devices. If Apple wants to be idiots, let them pay the full price of their stupidity for once.

Re:wow (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 4 months ago | (#47192239)

The summary is VERY misleading.

iFone sued. There was no countersuit. The courts ruled that Apple could sell its phones using the name iPhone, as that was a different business from iFone's.
However, now the court has decided that the companies in the same business as iFone, the carriers, may not promote their business by using the term "iPhone" in their marketing.

Re:wow (1)

Jumunquo (2988827) | about 4 months ago | (#47193353)

Apple definitely started all this. They had two iPhone trademarks already and wanted to register iPhone for telecommunications but were told it was taken. Rather than retreat quietly, they brought a lawsuit to invalidate iFone's trademark.

Who gives a fuck (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192071)

It's just Mexico. The shithole of the world... Look at how many of its people are running for anyplace but Mexico... They should just flush that shit log down the toilet.

Re:Who gives a fuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192089)

Geonocide is not the answer. Try again.

Re:Who gives a fuck (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192381)

You must be a seppo - writing from the sewer of the planet, the US.

Mexican judges require bigger bribes (1)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about 4 months ago | (#47192175)

Mexican judges require bigger bribes than Mexican cops. Apple will just throw some money at the appeals court quietly and all will be well.

Read between the lines. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192227)

Who do these Mexicans think they are, trying to impede on Apple's manifest destiny?

Phonetics (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | about 4 months ago | (#47192387)

[......] iPhone [......] phonetically identical 'iFone' brand

The author of this article clearly has no idea about Spanish pronunciation.

Re:Phonetics (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192663)

Here in Mexico, the Apple iPhone is known by its English pronunciation. Áifon or Áifoun, both would work.

Re:Phonetics (1)

narcc (412956) | about 4 months ago | (#47192679)

It's pronounced "Hey-Zeus"

Re:Phonetics (1)

WinstonWolfIT (1550079) | about 4 months ago | (#47193111)

Assuming the ph dipthong is prounounced as an f, they are still phonetically identical. Yes, I know ph doesn't occur in Spanish words and iPhone would be eeponeh.

Re:Phonetics (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | about 4 months ago | (#47193281)

Exactly. "eefoneh" =/= "eeponeh".

Alternate advertisement . (1)

eblum (624940) | about 4 months ago | (#47192579)

They can just advertise iPhone as "The Phone from Apple its name we can't name, but you know which one it's"

Re:Alternate advertisement . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192681)

How about just "Apple's Phone" or "The Phone from Apple."

Does iFone sell the iPhone? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 months ago | (#47192791)

In the United States, certain carriers were allowed to have the iPhone first. I don't know whether iFone sells the iPhone, or how common the subsidy and locking practices are in the Mexican mobile phone market, but I'm imagining ads like this: "You'd think iFone would have an Apple phone, but you'd be wrong."

Re:Does iFone sell the iPhone? (1)

eblum (624940) | about 4 months ago | (#47193351)

Don't believe me, it looks like a very small company. They sell "contact center on the cloud", telephony and IVR solutions. May be asterisk based. http://www.ifone.com.mx/produc... [ifone.com.mx]

Re:Alternate advertisement . (1)

i.kazmi (977642) | about 4 months ago | (#47201607)

That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named or You-Know-What

re Explanation (1)

jelizondo (183861) | about 4 months ago | (#47192789)

What happened is that a Mexican company registered the name iFone, which the court found phonetically equal to iPhone, for the purpose of selling communication services.

The three largest carriers (Telcel, Iusacell y Telefonica Movistar) were prohibited from using iPhone in their advertising, as they cell precisely, communications services.

Apple itself is not prohibited from using its brand name, but can use it only for the purposes of selling the phone, not services.

In Mexico as in other countries, the same brand can be used to sell different types of goods and services; what the court found, was Apple's registration was too broad and that the Mexican company had a narrow registration, which was also prior to Apples'.

The suit came from Apple to force the Mexican company to stop using its own brand; now the Mexican company is countersuing for damages and asking for 40% of the revenue generated using the brand in Mexico.

Link to the registration [impi.gob.mx]

.

Re:re Explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47192873)

You were so close! Then you blew it.
From the first link in the Summary:
" The iFone trademark was originally filed in 2003, and in 2009 the company filed a suit against Apple. In March 2013 the case ended with the decision that Apple had in fact not infringed on the mark.".

Not Fooling Anyone... (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 months ago | (#47192855)

You're not fooling anyone. Mexico has no carriers [wikipedia.org] .

In a Related Story (1)

tquasar (1405457) | about 4 months ago | (#47193049)

Free Willzyx.

Apple lost (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about 4 months ago | (#47193213)

Spin it how you will, but carriers banned from advertising iphones in Mexico is a loss for Apple. My crystal ball says that the next chapter in the saga is a big payment from Apple to the owner of the Mexican iFone trademark.

Common sense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47193743)

Can't they just disambiguate it, by referring to the "Apple iPhone"? You know... apply some common sense...

Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47194185)

And let's hope those selling iFone services stop selling those too - then there's absolutely no confusion at all and iFone goes away.

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