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?