After fighting to secure its iPad trademark in China, Apple appears poised to engage in another costly trademark battle overseas. Brazil’s copyright authority recently ruled that the iPhone trademark rights belong to a local company, Gradiente Eletronica SA.
As with many international trademark systems, Brazil awards trademark registration to the first party to file, without taking into account who used the trademark first, or which party is more closely associated with the brand. In this case, Gradiente first applied for a trademark in 2000, six years prior to Apple’s subsequent trademark application and launch of the popular iPhone product.
Gradient was awarded the iPhone trademark in January 2008, according to The Wall Street Journal. Under Brazil’s trademark law, in order to gain exclusive rights, it was required to sell a product making use of the mark within five years.
In December 2012, the company announced an Android-based smartphone called the “IPHONE Neo One.”
According to Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI), Apple is now contesting whether Gradient used the brand within the required time frame.
However, in February, the INPI ruled against Apple. Accordingly, Apple filed suit and is also trying to work out a financial settlement (reports indicate that the two entities are close to a settlement). Either way, it appears that Apple has another costly legal battle on its hands.
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I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +