iPhone Trademark In Brazil May Slip From Apple's Grip

Rumblings in Portuguese suggest that Apple may be about to lose the right to call its iPhones "iPhones" in Brazil.

Brazilian news site OGlobo hinted over the weekend that the country's IP authorities may be poised to make a ruling that will nullify Apple's right to use the "iPhone" brand name. The Instituto Nacional de Propriedade Industrial was said to be ready to publish a rejection of Apple's request for the name because a local company called Gradiente had obtained exclusive rights to the name in 2008. Gradiente applied for it in 2000—even before the iPod hit the scenes, though after the iMac—but was rewarded it after Apple's iPhone was released in 2007.

A new Reuters report supports the leaked information, and says the INPI will publish its ruling on February 13th. Apple will almost certainly appeal but the waters are muddied by the fact that IGB Eletrônica, a spinoff of Gradiente, launched its own "iPhone"-branded smartphone in December, ironically powered by Android. Brazil is also home to numerous fake iPhones sold on the grey market. Apple actually manufactures genuine iPhones in a Brazilian Foxconn plant.

Will Apple just ride out this storm? Or do you think Gradiente has a valid case?

[Image: Flickr user smemon]

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  • David Toole

    Gradiente is a terrible producer of utter crap. The company has always been this way, yet recently managed to resurrect itself after serious financial difficulties that dragged on for 10 years or so. I believe at one point Gradiente declared bankruptcy The iPhone "controversy" is an attempted money grab by a company that seems unable to sell its products. I live in Brasil and have owned a few Gradiente products over the years. Never again. It would serve Brasil right if Apple simply decided to not sell the iPhone here. This would, of course, irritate the millions of Brasilians willing to pay the most expensive prices in the world for their  iPhones and iPads. But it might teach the judicial system a much needed lesson. And that doesn't even touch on the irony of a country that practically survives on counterfeit products declaring a brand name illegal.

  • Caralho de Asa

    When you say ´´It would serve Brasil right if Apple simply decided to not sell the iPhone here´´, maybe in a couple of years if Android keeps dominating the market as it has been in 2012.