Apple may face iPhone trademark battle in India as local firm asserts 'iFon' mark

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2014
Apple is once again facing "iPhone" naming writes woes, this time in a challenge coming from Indian firm iVoice Enterprises, which claims the phonetic similarity between iPhone and its own "iFon" destroyed the project before it got off the ground.

iPhone India


According to iVoice managing director V. P. Balaji, the Erode-based company was founded in 2007 to create a low-priced, feature-rich mobile phones to be marketed in India as "iFon," reports The Time of India.

iVoice is petitioning India's Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) to remove Apple's "iPhone" trademark from its registry, and the agency recently asked for an official response, suggesting the opposition may have a chance at being reviewed.

"The manufacturing and design of the phones were to be outsourced to companies in China and Taiwan. As we wanted to bring out an affordable phone for people across the country, we named it India Phone (iFon)," Balaji said.

Shortly after Apple introduced the iPhone at the Macworld expo in 2007, iVoice's iFon initiative disintegrated as financial bakers pulled out and overseas partners withdrew support. The result was devastating to iVoice's business.

The report claims Apple petitioned the city's Trade Mark Registry (TMR) to drop the iFon mark in 2008, citing phonetic similarity with iPhone, but the exact timeline of events is murky.

"When we had applied for the mark in May 2007, Apple Inc was still to announce its iPhone brand. It was only in 2008 that it launched its product with the mark. The phone was launched in India only in 2009," said iVoice director Venkateshwaran Vaiyapuri.

While Apple did indeed launch the iPhone 3GS in India in 2009, Vaiyapuri's comment on a 2008 iPhone is less clear. The director could be referring to the launch of an iPhone with trademark protection in India.

In any case, iVoice filed its counter to Apple's petition in 2010 and a subsequent IPAB request for removal in 2013, but has yet to bring the iFon to market.

The legal challenge is nothing new for Apple, which over the years fielded multiple threats to the iPhone name, including trademark disputes in Japan, Brazil, Mexico (which coincidentally has a division called "iVoice") and even the U.S.

The history of Apple's iPhone moniker goes back to at least June 2006, when AppleInsider was first to spot a company filing in a Far East trademark office. At the time, little was known about the handset, which would go on to become Apple's single most important consumer product, accounting for well over half of all revenue for the company's fourth quarter of 2014.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    erannerann Posts: 38member
    Yadda, yadda, yadda!
  • Reply 2 of 49
    Whatever.
  • Reply 3 of 49
    Um, iPhone was announced in January 2007. Tough cookies. Your product was probably crap anyway.
  • Reply 4 of 49
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,071member
    They say the similarity is phonetic but iFon would be pronounced to rh yme with "gone" in the absence of any diacritical marks. They needed "iFone" to give this one legs

    EDIT: I had to add a space in "rh yme" to stop VagLink from linking to a shopping site. This looks like a worrying new direction for appleinsider.

    [IMG]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/51789/width/200/height/400[/IMG]
  • Reply 5 of 49

    "financial bakers" ??

     

    Anyway, maybe they should have come up with some original names for their company and products, instead of trying to ride the coat tails of some other company that had already been making "i" products for about 9 years.

  • Reply 6 of 49

    Nothing that a few extra rupees (at $1 = ?62) will not take care of....

     

    Erode (pr. ee-road)? I know where that is. It won't even be that many rupees.

  • Reply 7 of 49
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

    Um, iPhone was announced in January 2007. Tough cookies. Your product was probably crap anyway.

    Yes, it would appear that Mr. Vaiyapuri is a pretty poor historian.  iPhone was announced January 9, 2007 (I think that's before May) and actually released on June 29, 2007 (I think that's before 2008)...but perhaps they have their own calendar.

     

    Just wondering, why aren't folks there referred to as "Native Asians"?

  • Reply 8 of 49
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by maddog_uk_69 View Post

    "financial bakers" ??


    As long as we're proofreading, let's start at the top with "naming writes woes"...

  • Reply 9 of 49
    joshajosha Posts: 901member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by boredumb View Post

     

    Yes, it would appear that Mr. Vaiyapuri is a pretty poor historian.  iPhone was announced January 9, 2007 (I think that's before May) and actually released on June 29, 2007 (I think that's before 2008)...but perhaps they have their own calendar.

     

    Just wondering, why aren't folks there referred to as "Native Asians"?




    Those in India were first known to Europe as Indians;  from India.

    Our local Indians who we met later needed a different name.

  • Reply 10 of 49
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,320member

    What pisses me off is that official government agencies take this crap seriously, as if people would actually be confused or something.

  • Reply 11 of 49
    calicali Posts: 3,495member

    Anyway, maybe they should have come up with some original names for their company and products, instead of trying to ride the coat tails of some other company that had already been making "i" products for about 9 years.

    Exactly!

    I've seen everyone rip off Apples naming. From Sony's iSound to iGoogle.

    I sometimes wonder if the reason Apple is ditching "i" in favor of "?" for naming is to shake off all the copycats.

    These companies are so shameless I wouldn't doubt if we see ?Sound or ?Google in the future :D
  • Reply 12 of 49
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,744member
    This time around the typos are way more interesting than the article.

    Would read again!
  • Reply 13 of 49
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,071member
    cali wrote: »
    I've seen everyone rip off Apples naming. From Sony's iSound to iGoogle.


    And now Tim Cook with iGay
  • Reply 14 of 49
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by maddog_uk_69 View Post

     

    "financial bakers" ??


    I guess those are the guys that cook the books.

  • Reply 15 of 49

    This is bull crap.  Why now?  They should not get squat.

    The name does not make the product, the product makes the name.

  • Reply 16 of 49
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,494member
    They applied for the mark in May 2007 months after Jobs announced the iPhone.
  • Reply 17 of 49
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    analogjack wrote: »
    They say the similarity is phonetic but iFon would be pronounced to rh yme with "gone" in the absence of any diacritical marks. They needed "iFone" to give this one legs

    EDIT: I had to add a space in "rh yme" to stop VagLink from linking to a shopping site. This looks like a worrying new direction for appleinsider.

    400

    1) I thought that only occurred for those that aren't logged in.

    2) VagLink sounds like a rejected name for a dating website.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    I've stood against Apple on plenty of their copyright and trademark issues but not this one. I see nothing that says they aren't looking for Apple to pay them off.
  • Reply 19 of 49
    boredumb wrote: »

    Just wondering, why aren't folks there referred to as "Native Asians"?

    Because 'Asian' appears to be appropriated by group of US illiterati (yeah, illiterati) to refer to, you know, people who look .....
  • Reply 20 of 49

    Because AI hasn't posted anything about it yet:

     

    Ex-Apple and Pepsi CEO and object-of-Steve-Jobs'-wrath John Sculley launches new low-cost smartphone brand "Obi" in India, Middle East.

    http://fortune.com/2014/10/31/ex-apple-ceo-john-sculley-launches-low-cost-smartphone-brand

     

    You're welcome.

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