In the near future, consumers who buy an “iPhone” in Brazil may find themselves with a product that wasn’t made by Apple. That’s because Brazil’s trademark authority has declined approve Apple’s request for a trademark on “iPhone.” Instead, it said the name is owned by a local firm.
The Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Cowley and Loretta Chao reported, “Brazilian regulators on Wednesday rejected Apple Inc. request to register the iPhone name in that country, setting up a potentially costly legal dispute in one of the world’s fastest-growing smartphone markets. The agency overseeing patents in Brazil said Wednesday it denied Apple’s trademark application because Brazilian electronics maker IGB Eletrônica SA, better known by its brand name Gradiente, already owned rights to the name.”
Bloomberg’s Christiana Sciaudone added, “IGB Eletronica SA, the Brazilian electronics maker that applied to register the name in 2000 and won the rights to use it in 2008, continues to hold the trademark. IGB started selling its own iPhone model in December.”
Reuters noted that Apple “is challenging the ruling by Brazil’s copyright regulator to prevent local firm Gradiente Eletronica SA from using the ‘iphone’ brand name.”
CNET’s Don Reisinger observed, “It’s not clear whether Gradiente is looking to settle the case and net millions or maintain the exclusivity of the iPhone branding. However, a report last week quoted a company official who said Gradiente would be ‘open to a dialogue’ with Apple.”