Apple loses rights to iPhone name in Mexico

Apple has lost a fairly significant court case in Mexico this week. A Mexico City Judge has denied the company’s injunction request that would have allowed it to continue selling iPhone-branded products in the country.

Apparently, the “iPhone” moniker sounds too phonetically similar to iFone, a brand belonging to a Mexican telecommunications company. And the similarity is enough that Apple could be banned from using the name in the region…

Electronista (via MacRumors) reports:

“The decision stems from a legal action that Apple initially filed in 2009 requesting that the company cease using the iFone brand in order to head off the possibility of consumer confusion.

El Universal reports that the iFone trade name was registered in Mexico in 2003, some four years before Apple did so. Nonetheless, Apple sought unsuccessfully to gain sole control over the brand in the year after the iPhone first launched in Mexico.”

It’s unclear at this time what’s going to actually happen between iFone and Apple. There’s no word on when the ban could go into place, and obviously the iPad-makers have deep enough pockets to make a serious settlement offer.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should. Earlier this year, Apple ended a long legal battle with display-maker Proview, over the iPad trademark in China, by offering up a reported settlement of some $60 million dollars.

This is pretty interesting timing for the ruling though. Telcel and Movistar, two of Mexico’s largest carriers, are scheduled to begin selling the iPhone 5 on Friday. Yeah, I was a betting man, I’d say Apple makes iFone some kind of offer.

What do you think?