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iPhone name in peril in Mexico following local court ruling

The Mexico Supreme Court sides with a local company over Apple when it comes to the naming rights of the iPhone.

Apple today suffered another setback in securing the legal rights to one of its product names outside the U.S.

In a ruling this week, The Mexico Supreme Court upheld a lower court's decision to keep granting ownership of the iPhone name to a company named Ifone SA, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Ifone SA registered the moniker in 2003, four years before Apple launched its popular smartphone. The iPhone and Mac maker did not find this out until attempting to get the trademark for it in 2009, which led to a lawsuit.

Ifone SA has its own "Ifone" brand, though no smartphone product. In its own legal offensive, filed with the Industrial Property Institute, Ifone is going after Apple as well as three local mobile phone carriers for monetary damages, the Journal says.

The scuffle is the latest over the naming rights to one of Apple's products outside the U.S., all of which have led to settlements. Last year Apple fought with Chinese company Proview over the rights to the iPad trademark in the country. That dispute, which threatened sales of the popular tablet, was settled last July for $60 million. More recently, Apple ran into trouble in Brazil with local telecommunications firm IGB Eletronica over the naming rights to iPhone, a matter which is also headed toward a settlement.

Apple famously wrested the rights to the iPhone name in the U.S. from Cisco Systems in early 2007, just months before the product's release. Cisco sued Apple for trademark infringement immediately after the iPhone was unveiled at the annual Macworld conference in January that same year. The two ended up settling in February 2007.

Despite its retail expansion efforts over the past few years, Apple has steered clear of opening retail stores in Mexico, choosing instead to create stores within other retailers. Apple has also opened locations in, or nearby, border towns.