IPHONE Vs. IFON

Apple faces yet another trademark dispute over its IPHONE mark.

By way of background, in 2013, an Indian company, iVoice Enterprises, filed a cancellation action against Apple’s 2002 registration for the mark IPHONE covering computer hardware and software in Class 9 on the ground of similarity with its IFON mark. The cancellation action was filed at the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (“IPAB”) in Chennai.

In its cancellation petition iVoice had alleged that when it filed an application to register IFON in March 2007, Apple had not even made public its plans regarding the IPHONE cell phone. Apple only launched its IPHONE in 2008 in the United States of America and in 2009 in India. Accordingly, its registration, dated October 2002, should be cancelled.

Late last week the IPAB ordered Apple to file an answer to the cancellation petition.

Apple and iVoice are no strangers and have butted heads before at the Trade Marks Registry. Previously Apple has opposed iVoice’s application to register IFON dated 9 May 2007. The opposition is pending. iVoice contends that Apple’s opposition effected investments and adversely affected plans to launch its IFON phone.

It will be very interesting to see how this battle plays out! Undoubtedly Apple is used to such challenges. Will this settle or get decided on merits? Watch this space for developments!