Brazilian regulators have ruled Apple does not have exclusive rights to use the "iPhone" trademark in the country, the BBC reports. Turns out a local company, Gradiente Electronica, registered the name 13 years ago, well before the Cupertino company.
As you may have guessed, Apple won't let Gradiente enjoy its victory for long. The National Institute of Industrial Property announced the Cupertino-based iPhone manufacturer has filed an appeal asking the termination of the right to use the trademark.
In an interesting turn, Apple's exclusive right to use the iPhone name on any other product, such as clothing, software and across publications, is retained, but not on handsets. This is a kind of shock for Apple, considering that the iPhone accounts for about half of its revenue.
However, Apple can continue to sell the popular iPhone in Latin America, but Gradiente can sue to company at any time for trademark infringement. Also, the local company announced back in December, it planned to launch an iPhone handset running Android.
This isn't news to Apple, as the company was aware of Gradiente's right to the iPhone trademark. However, Apple's lawyers claimed when a company registers a trademark, it has up to five years to use it on products. Gradiente registered the iPhone trademark back in 2008 and the five years expired in January 2013, without any product launch under the name of iPhone. It came out with the December announcement, but the product didn't came.
In an interview with Bloomberg, the Brazilian company said it is open to negotiation for selling the naming rights to Apple.
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“We’re open to a dialogue for anything, anytime,” Eugenio Emilio Staub, chairman of IGB, said in an interview in Sao Paulo, adding that the company hasn’t been contacted by Apple. “We’re not radicals.”