Indian company iVoice is challenging Apple over their trademark iFon to which they claim to have prior rights. Apple is taking it very seriously, as India is one of the biggest growing markets in telecom.
Founded in 2007, iVoice has created an inexpensive, feature-rich mobile phone, named “iFon”. Consequently, the form has requested the Indian Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) to remove Apple’s “iPhone” trademark from its registry. “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”, managing director V. P. Balaji states.
According to iVoice the company had applied for the “iFon” trademark in 2007. At that time Apple was still to announce its iPhone brand, which was launched only in 2008.
The IPAB (not to be confused with iPad!) consider the matter admissible, and has requested Apple to respond this month to the allegations. One of Apple’s argument may be that the Indian company filed the trademark application on 9 May 2007, while Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone to the world on 9 January 2007. Whether this will hold up before the IPAB remains to be seen.