How do you market a smartphone without mentioning its name? That's the dilemma facing Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) carrier partners in Mexico, who've been barred from using the iPhone name in advertising.
The Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) finalized a decision on Thursday regarding a dispute between Apple and Mexico’s iFone, a telecommunications solution provider for call centers, reported El Universal. The ruling is part of a larger trademark infringement case filed by iFone against Apple in 2009. Unfortunately for Apple, iFone had registered its trademark in 2003, four years before Apple unveiled the first iPhone.
In March 2013, the courts found that the Apple iPhone hadn't infringed on iFone’s trademark because the Cupertino, California, tech titan doesn't sell telecommunication services.
But Apple’s carrier partners in Mexico do, so Thursday’s IMPI decision affects them.
According to El Universal, Mexican carriers Telcel, Lusacell and Movistar have been fined an undisclosed amount by the IMPI and have been ordered to remove all references to the Apple iPhone in their advertising and marketing materials within 15 days. The IMPI has also given iFone the option to recover legal costs by filing a civil suit against the carriers.
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Carriers may have been barred from using the iPhone name in advertising, but they are still permitted to sell the smartphone, creating a new marketing dilemma for Mexican wireless carriers and Apple.