A bold if not crazy Indian Company is asking India's Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) to remove Apple's "iPhone" trademark from the Trademark Registry. I read about this case last week and decided not to cover it thinking that the request would be instantly quashed by IPAB. I was wrong. Report Updated
The initial report filed on October twentieth stated that "Tamil Nadu-based iVoice Enterprises has filed a rectification petition with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), challenging the iPhone trademark belonging to US-based Apple Inc."
The report further stated that the Intellectual Property Appellate Board, Chennai, would conduct a hearing next week on the admissibility of the counter statement filed by Apple in defending iPhone trade market for appellate board records.
Today, it's being reported that IPAB is directing Apple to respond on the trademark issue. The directive was issued by IPAB here on the rectification petition filed by Erode-based iVoice, engaged in intellectual property rights and mobile applications.
The Board observed that the counter statement was not duly served by the respondent firm Apple Inc. in compliance with the IPAB rules. "The Appellate Board directed the respondent (Apple Inc.) to file the application for condoning delay and serve the counter statement to the applicant (iVoice Ventures Pvt. Ltd) under intimation to the Registry." Apple has until November to reply.
Although the trademark "Xerox" was challenged in India under the same trademark rectification provision in India because the word had become generic over time to simply mean photocopying, it ultimately failed. But one can never judge a current case on a past judgement alone.
What India's reporting failed to address is the specific grounds for why Apple's "iPhone" trademark should be removed in the first place. You could review the basics of Trademark Rectification found in section 47 of the Indian Trademark Act here. Exactly what technicality Apple may have faltered in is unknown at this time.
UPDATE: The Times of India has provided more background on this case which revolves around iVoice trademark the "Indian Phone" which they later abreviated it as "iFon.' If the "Indian Phone" was the original mark, then there's no case. The question becomes, how did it go from being the "Indian Phone" to "iFon" and not iPhone or IPhone? There seems to be a missing piece of the puzzle here that's not being conveyed in the Indian press. We'll follow up when there's more news on this matter.