MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's intellectual property agency said Friday it has ruled in favor of a small local firm's rights to the "iFone" name, saying that ads for Apple's iPhone have encroached on the trademark.
The Mexican firm iFone S.A. de C.V. registered the name in 2003 to cover specialized telephone service for call centers and businesses, well before Apple registered the similar iPhone moniker in 2007 for its popular mobile handset. iFone doesn't make mobile telephones.
Mexico's Institute for Intellectual Property ruled Thursday that the two names are phonetically identical, and thus there was a trademark encroachment.
The institute said several Mexican mobile phone carriers, including market leader America Movil, must pay a fine of about $104,000 and stop using "iPhone" as a promotional name for their calling plans.
But Apple is not specifically covered by the ruling, since it doesn't provide calling services, just handsets. Apple had previously argued the Mexican firm's trademark had lapsed.
The ruling can be appealed, but the institute said about 68 percent of its rulings are upheld on appeal.
Previous reports suggested the Mexican company might sue Apple for as much as $1.5 billion trademark infringement, but iFone executives did not return calls for comment on whether they planned to file any civil suit.
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