The Patent Sword Cuts Both Ways

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See Update below.

Apple corporation, which now spends more money suing competitors than developing new products, has just been banned from using the iPhone brand name in Mexico. The reason? The brand “iFone” had been registered in Mexico by another company several years before Apple came in with iPhone. Apple naturally and preposterously sued iFone, but lost. So now the iPhone brand is banned from doing business lest it confuse consumers. In other words, iFone is getting what Apple usually gets after one of their scorched-earth campaigns against competitors.

Of course, I oppose this sort of judicial management of commerce, and both iFone and iPhone would exist side by side in any remotely free market. Instead, the monopoly power of patents and copyrights leads to private companies lobbying courts to shut down other private companies who are perceived as inconvenient. In this case, it was Apple who picked the fight, and tried to grind iFone into dust, and they ended up on the losing end. Turnabouts are a bummer, I suppose.

UPDATE: The likely outcome of the ruling is perhaps best described as a settlement rather than anything that could be called a ban. Apple is indeed selling the iPhone in Mexico, which is good for consumers, by the way. The Verge clarifies.

11:41 am on November 2, 2012