Home / Companies / Apple challenges RCom’s iPhone-like trademark

New Delhi: Apple Inc., the maker of the iconic mobile phone iPhone, has challenged in India, half-a-dozen trademark filings made by Reliance Communications Ltd, or RCom, India’s second biggest mobile phone service provider by customers, in March 2007.

‘i-war’: A man walks on the Apple Inc. campus in Cupertino, California. The company is fighting several trademark applications. Robert Galbraith / Reuters

California, US-based Apple of iPod fame is fighting several trademark applications by RCom, part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, or R-Adag, that seeks to trademark the “i phone" brand name that sounds exactly like Apple’s popular iPhone brand. Apple has sold some 13 million iPhones in 2008 alone; the phone was launched in June 2007.

RCom had last year applied to India’s Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks for several trademarks including ‘i phone’ and ‘Reliance I Phone’ under categories ranging from telecommunications to entertainment, as first reported by Mint on 11 October.

Apple filed the objections in January, according to the government agency’s website, to RCom’s applications on 27 March 2007 that were made public on the government agency’s in mid-September.

Apple spells its brand ‘iPhone’ while RCom proposes to use a capital ‘I’ and has a character-wide gap between ‘I’ and ‘Phone’and similarly small ‘i’ and a gap between ‘phone.’ Apple is opposing the applications under three of trademark classifications—Class 38, 41 and 16—that deals with telecom services , education, training, entertainment, sports and cultural activities, paper, cardboard and goods made from these, book-binding materials, photographs, stationery, artistic materials, paint brushes and playing cards.

A spokesman for Apple in Singapore declined to comment, while RCom spokespersons had not replied until late evening to an e-mailed questionaire sent at 1.30pm.

Even if Apple is yet to file for the trademark in India, Akhilesh Rai, trademark lawyer for New Delhi based law firm AZB & Partners said it had a “stronger case" since the trademark office generally rules in favour of the main user of a trademark.


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