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.
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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.