Brazil’s copyright regulator, INPI, has ruled that the “iphone” trademark rightfully belongs to a Brazilian company; Apple has already appealed.
Gradiente Eletronica SA filed a request to trademark “iphone” in 2000 and was granted permission to use it in 2008. The company launched its own “iphone” line in December 2012.
Apple began applying for “iPhone” trademarks in 2006, and those relating to communications and cell phones were rejected because of Gradiente’s existing trademarks.
The BBC reports that the INPI decision applies only to handsets, “and that the California-based company continued to have exclusive rights to use the iPhone name elsewhere including on clothing, in software and across publications.”
In order for a trademark owner in Brazil to keep its rights, it must show that the trademark was used within five years of the trademark’s granting. Apple is appealing the ruling on this basis, alleging that the trademark expired before Gradiente used it.
Brazil is South America’s largest market, and like many such cases, a settlement may be in the works; the BBC notes that Bloomberg has quoted the head of Gradiente as saying, “We’re open to a dialogue for anything, anytime . .. we’re not radicals.”
Will Apple really lose this edge on the Brazilian market? Stay tuned!