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5 Trademark Violation Cases Which Apple Fought – Including iVoice From India!

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Apple iPhone iPad  Brand Names

One day in 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were driving down in a car and Jobs suggested ‘Apple’ as the name of their new company. Steve Jobs had just spent a summer picking Apples from a farm, and he was very much influenced by this fruit. Additionally, Jobs worked at Atari during that time, and he wanted Apple to appear before Atari in a phonebook.

As they couldn’t come up with any other better ‘sounding’ name, Apple was finalized. In the official biography of Steve Jobs written by Walter Issacson, its mentioned: “On the naming of Apple, he said he was “on one of my fruitarian diets.” He said he had just come back from an apple farm, and thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”

Apple is right now worth $700 billion, making them world’s most valuable publicly traded company ever created. And their brand image and name: Apple is no less controversial. Right now, as you are reading this post, there are several litigations and infringement cases which Apple is fighting to save their brand name and associated terms, which includes one from India as well.

Here are the 5 brand trademark violation cases which Apple fought:

– iVoice Ventures, Erode, Tamil Nadu for iFon

iVoice Ventures is an IT company based in Erode, Tamil Nadu which wants to sell mobile phones with brand name “iFon”, which was opposed by Apple in 2008 under the Intellectual Property Rights, and because iPhone’s trademark is already secured under Indian Trademark Registry.

Now, iVoice has renewed their protest against Apple’s monopoly for using trademarks of iPhone and iPhone with the Apple logo on their mobile phones.

As per a press release by iVoice, “Apple’s original opposition to ‘iFon’ trademark caused insurmountable challenges and irrevocable losses in ramping our business during 2008/2009. Given the rejuvenated Indian economy, we’re on our way to revamp our business model and one key metric to regain investor confidence is to secure unencumbered rights to our ‘iFon’ intellectual property in India. As of February 2015, we’ve challenged all of Apple’s registered/pending ‘iPhone’ trademarks before IPAB and TMR in India.”

The case is still pending, and the concerned judicial body is expected to announce their verdict soon.

– Shenzhen Proview, China for iPad

In 2012, Apple paid $60 million to Shenzhen Proview, a business establishment based in China for using iPad brand name and trademark in China. In 2009, Apple had paid $54,800 to buy the trademark of iPad, which was held with Proview’s Taiwan unit. However, when Apple started selling iPad in China during early 2012, Proview’s China unit filed a case against Apple for trademark violations.

– Fujitsu, Japan for iPad

In 2010, when Apple announced the launch of iPad worldwide, Fujitsu filed a case against Apple for using the trademarks of their own handheld device named iPad which was launched in 2003. Apple paid an undisclosed amount to Fujitsu for buying back the trademark rights of iPad in 2010.

– driPhone, New Zealand for iPhone

This is a case which Apple lost; something which even Samsung couldn’t accomplish!

A small products company from New Zealand created a water-proof phone and named it driPhone, which was opposed by Apple as they were concerned that the name resonates with their iPhone brand name. But the courts decided that this case was going a bit too far, and rejected Apple’s opposition.

– IGB Eletrônica, Brazil for iPhone

This is another case which Apple lost. IGB Eletrônica is an electronics manufacturing company from Brazil, which has won rights to sell it’s flagship IPHONE brand which are ironically loaded with Android OS!

Although IGB Eletrônica had registered the brand name IPHONE in 2000, which was 7 years ahead of Apple, they started selling their phones only in 2013. Brazil’s INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property) which is the trademark authority in Brazil granted full rights of using IPHONE to IGB Eletrônica, rejecting Apple’s protests.

And here is one case, which can snowball into a major controversy in near future:

– ITV, UK for Apple’s iTV brand

ITV is UK’s biggest commercial broadcaster, who has repeatedly warned Apple against using the trademark iTV by Apple. Although Apple only sells set-up box: Apple TV, but rumors about iTV, which would be an actual TV manufactured by Apple is strong, and it can be launched later this year. UK’s ITV is all set to take this matter forward and stop Apple from using iTV trademark.

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