Apple loses exclusive trademark in Brazil to the term iPhone as IGB proves that it had trademarked the name in 2000.
Last week, there were rumors out of Brazil saying that the Brazilian Institute of Industry Property (INPI) planned to award an exclusive iPhone name trademark to Brazil-based electronics company Gradiente (IGB). This rumor has finally been confirmed and Apple has now lost its official trademark over the iPhone name. This ruling comes while Apple is still fighting numerous lawsuits around the world regarding copyright issues.
Long before Apple had even come out with the iPhone, the Brazilian company IGB had already trademarked the name in 2000. Despite filing for the trademark 13 years ago, the company had not created a product bearing the name until December of 2012 when it released an Android-based handset. While IGB’s registration for the iPhone trademark was validated, the exclusivity for the name only applies to handsets, which means that Apple can use their branding on all of their other products. Should Apple continue to use iPhones for their handsets, IGB has the right to sue the company for exclusivity of handsets. This is not Apple’s first foray in trademark exclusivity. In 2007, the company settled a trademark-infringement case with Cisco, the original owners of the name, and last year the company settled another lawsuit with Chinese company Proview over the iPad moniker. Proview netted a total of $60 million for the settlement.
IGB currently holds the rights to the trademarked name until 2018. Currently, it’s unclear whether the company will hold onto the trademark for its product or sell it to Apple for exclusive use, though IGB is “open for discussion.” Apple hopes to appeal the ruling and is searching for other regulatory channels before sitting down with IGB.
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