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February 14, 2013

Apple Challenges Ruling on iPhone Trademark in Brazil

By Rory Lidstone, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Apple (News - Alert) just can't seem to stay out of the court room, but this time it isn't battling Samsung, but rather a Brazilian electronics manufacturer, Gradiente Electronica SA. The maker of the iPhone (News - Alert) found itself in Brazil recently with a ruling that Gradiente actually owns the "iphone" brand name. Of course, Apple today challenged the ruling by Brazil's copyright regulator, Inpi.

Gradiente filed the request to use the iPhone brand way back in 2000, pre-empting the launch of Apple's iPhone by seven years, but only received approval to use the trademark in 2008. In order to retain its trademark rights, Gradiente must prove to Inpi within the next 60 days that it made use of the trademark between 2008 and this year, as brands within Brazil must be developed within five years of gaining approval.

Unfortunately for Apple, IGB Electronica SA, a company formed due to the restructuring of Gradiente, actually launched its "iphone" line of smartphones this past December. To add insult to injury, the iphone Neo One runs Android (News - Alert), version 2.3.4 Gingerbread. Other specs include dual-SIM capability, a 3.7-inch 32 x 480 display, a 700 MHz CPU, 2 GB of internal storage and a five megapixel camera.

According to an Inpi spokesperson, Apple can still take the case to court or negotiate an out-of-court settlement with Gradiente. Apple is, of course, no stranger to the latter course of action, having struck a deal with Swiss railway operator SBB back in October, allowing Apple to use the trademark station clock design that appears on iPhones and other iOS devices.

That said, the company also found itself in a similar situation to this iPhone trademark case in China last year, where a manufacturer called Proview sued Apple for $1.6 billion claiming ownership of the iPad trademark. After Proview failed to comply with court instructions, the case was thrown out.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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