MEXICO CITY, June 6 Mexican telecommunications
company iFone said on Friday, after winning a trademark ruling,
it aims to seek damages from three local cellphone providers for
using the Apple brand iPhone to sell services.
The Mexican Institute for Industrial Property (IMPI),
Mexico's trademark body, on Thursday said it had ruled against
America Movil, Telefonica and Iusacell. It
upheld a complaint by iFone SA de C.V. that their use of the
"iPhone" name to market smartphone plans infringed the Mexican
Iusacell is jointly owned by Televisa and TV
Azteca, which dominate the television market.
That decision opened the door to a civil suit against the
three cellphone providers, which iFone lawyer Eduardo
Gallastegui said the company would pursue.
"So as to claim the damages the law gives us a right to due
to the infringement," he said.
According to the law, Gallastegui said, iFone could expect
to claim at least 40 percent of the value of the three cellphone
companies' sales made using the iPhone name. That claim could be
worth more than $1 billion, he added.
The cellphone providers have the right to appeal the IMPI's
decision and iFone has not yet begun its suit. The case is
likely take a long time, Gallastegui said.
IMPI said it had found for iFone because the three companies
were marketing services for something registered as a product,
the iPhone. That caused confusion with iFone's business, the
IMPI said. Apple was not directly affected by the decision.
However, Gallastegui said he believed Apple would have to
pay compensation to the three Mexican phone companies if iFone
was awarded damages in a civil suit.
"The one that started this whole controversy five years ago
was Apple. They're the ones who tried to cancel the brand name
of iFone," the lawyer said.
Apple in 2009 sued iFone over use of the brand name. But the
U.S. company eventually lost the case.
Mexico's iFone registered its name in 2003, some four years
before Apple introduced the iPhone, the IMPI said.
(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)