Skip to main content

Apple loses right to iPhone name in...

By Ramy Inocencio, for CNN
updated 3:11 AM EST, Thu February 14, 2013
Apple has lost the right in Brazil to market its smartphones under the
Apple has lost the right in Brazil to market its smartphones under the "iPhone" name
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Apple loses right to iPhone trademark in Brazil
  • Brazil patent regulator affirms local tech firm owns exclusive rights through 2018
  • Brazilian firm Gradiente Eletronica debuted "iphone Neo One" December 2012
  • Apple has endured past trademark problems in China, Japan, U.S.

Hong Kong (CNN) -- When it comes to buying an iPhone in Brazil, consumers have one extra option that the rest of us do not.

There's the "iPhone" made by the California tech giant Apple. Then there's the "iphone" made by the Brazilian firm Gradiente Eletronica and, perhaps in a slap to Apple, runs on rival Android's operating system.

And it's going to stay that way pending any future appeal or settlement.

On Thursday, Brazil's Institute of Industry Property (INPI), the country's main patent regulator, ruled that Apple holds no exclusive right to use the iPhone moniker to market its mobile phones. If Apple continues to use the iPhone name, Gradiente can sue.

Apple CEO remains confident with company
Obama: Apple will make Macs in the U.S.
Investors sour on Apple

INIP added that Gradiente Eletronica holds exclusive rights to the trademark though 2018 after having registered for the iPhone name in 2000. Apple only unveiled its iPhone name in 2007.

Apple may have gotten a bruising but an appeal is in the works. And in a twist on timing that Apple hopes may help it win branding rights, Gradiente Eletronica only launched its first "iphone", the iphone Neo One, in December 2012 -- five years after Apple debuted its inaugural iPhone. Gradiente explained it held back on releasing its own iphone until recently as it concluded corporate restructuring from 2008.

Apple's trademark trouble in Latin America's most populous country is just the latest in a series of global snafus that have spanned China, Japan and the United States.

Just days after Apple announced its first iPhone in January 2007, Cisco Systems sued the company in U.S. federal court saying it had owned trademark rights since 2000. Apple and Cisco agreed to a settlement the following month that allowed both companies use of the iPhone name.

In 2009, Apple paid Proview Taiwan a sum of $55,000 for use of the "iPad" name in mainland China. But in a complicated dispute, Proview claimed Apple set up a shell company to fool it into selling the trademark. In addition, Proview Taiwan did not actually own the rights to the iPad trademark in mainland China -- a subsidiary, Proview Shenzhen, did. Apple only secured the name in 2012 after paying out the actual trademark owner $60 million.

And in 2010, Apple secured the iPad trademark in the United States from Japanese electronics maker Fujitsu which had registered the name in the U.S. in 2003. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the title transfer was recorded on March 17, 2010, five days after Apple began pre-selling its first iPad.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- the three countries facing the biggest health crisis -- are also facing huge bills to try and contain the virus.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Twitter has lost its position in the top 20 coolest brands for the first time in three years.
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
As the crisis in Iraq escalates, CNN looks at how Iraq could crack down on ISIS' oil riches under the guidance of its new oil minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi.
updated 4:42 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is Turkey's new president . So can he revitalize its economic fortunes?
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Experts share their tips on cities they see as emerging financial hubs...they're not where you think.
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Growing numbers of us are willing to serve as bank, teacher or travel agent to people we have never met, and entrust them to serve us in turn.
updated 8:44 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The European Union is stepping in to save its dairy from going sour.
updated 8:36 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Europe's deteriorating relationship with Russia has hit the region's growth, even before new food sanctions begin to bite.
updated 12:34 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
With cyberattacks on the rise and here to stay, it's a modern-day challenge for people and businesses to get smarter about preventing them.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Airstrikes, rebels seizing control of oil fields, plus a severe refugee crisis are a recipe for market panic. So why are Iraq oil prices stable?
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Peer-to-peer finance lets businesses bypass bank loans. Creative companies with quirky ideas find new lending models advantageous.
updated 11:24 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Evidence points to pro-Russian separatists as perpetrators of the attack and Vladimir Putin is facing questions, David Clark writes.
updated 5:52 AM EDT, Wed September 3, 2014
CNN's Jim Boulden looks on the future of online shopping.
updated 10:40 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
The biggest Ebola outbreak in history is taking its toll in Western Africa, hitting some of West Africa's most vulnerable economies.
ADVERTISEMENT