February 14, 2013
Apple has just lost the "iPhone" trademark in Brazil, reports BBC News. Brazil's Institute of Intellectual Property (INPI) has ruled that the iDevice maker doesn't have the exclusive rights to use the trademark in the country. The ruling is hardly a surprise, since it had been suggested last week, when it was originally scheduled to be announced. In accordance with the ruling, the trademark belongs to a local electronics company called Gradiente Eletronica SA. Gradiente registered the trademark in 2000, seven years before the iPhone we've come to know (and love) was launched. Apple has long been selling the iPhone in Brazil, which is the largest market in Latin America. Under the ruling, the Cupertino-based company can continue to sell its popular smartphone in the country. However, Gradiente has an option to sue for exclusivity. Note that INPI's decision applies to handsets only. As such, it doesn't take away Apple's exclusive rights to use the iPhone name elsewhere. According to INPI, Apple has lodged an appeal against the decision. As noted by BBC News, "Apple had argued that it should have been given full rights since Gradiente had not released a product using the iPhone name until December 2012." Indeed, IGB Eletronica SA, a company formed as a result of Gradiente’s restructuring, launched its “iphone” line of Android phones just last December. In an interview with Bloomberg last week, IGB Chairman Eugenio Emilio Staub said, "We’re open to a dialogue for anything, anytime … we're not radicals." Sounds like it's Proview all over again.