Monday, January 5, 2015

iPhone v. iFone

Apple’s iPhone was launched in 2007 and iPhone 3GS was brought to India by Vodafone in 2009. In 2007, Chennai based iVoice Enterprises’ mobile venture, India Phone or ‘iFon’ filed for registration of the btand and logo ‘iPhone’ but Apple filed a motion against it even though at that time Apple’s iPhone was not registered as a trademark. Subsequently, iVoice had to suffer huge loss and filed for rectification asking for removal of Apple’s ‘iPhone’ trademark from the registry, to which a counter was recently submitted by Apple.

Some points need to be focused in this case. Firstly, iFone is phonetically similar to iPhone. Both of them cater the needs of the same section of the customers. The syllable “i” is associated with the products of Apple. Similarly, iFone could have registered under India Fone  and it was registered at the time when the customers in India were eagerly waiting for the launch of iPhone. iFone is deceptively similar to  iPhone which is likely to be detrimental to the reputation of iPhone.

Though iPhone is a foreign, unregistered trademark, it can enforce its rights by establishing priority use, reputation in India, misrepresentation and injury to Goodwill in the claim of passing off. The judgment is eagerly awaited to see in whose favour trademark rights are upheld.

-Shambhavi Mishra