Apple has lost the rights to the ‘iPhone’ trademark in Brazil after the nation’s Institute of Industrial Property found in favour of a local Android handset manufacturer, a move that could eventually see Apple’s iPhone 5 stripped from shelves.
With regulators finding in favour of Brazilian electronics manufacturer Gradiente, a company that reportedly owns the country’s rights to the iPhone name, it is expected the ruling will see the iPad mini and iMac manufacturer instigate a costly legal battle to fight the decision. Although Apple does not currently have any retail stores within the country, Brazil is expected to become the smartphone industry’s fourth largest market by 2016.
Whilst initially this ruling will not affect consumers looking to snap up Apple’s latest smartphone offerings within the country, Apple could eventually be forced to remove its handsets from sale if Gradiente sues for exclusivity on the iPhone trademark.
Following the decision, Marcelo Chimento, a spokesperson for the Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Property, revealed that Apple is already contesting the ruling under the basis that Gradiente had failed to make use of the iPhone trademark within the five-year window required by Brazilian law.
Although Apple has suggested Gradiente failed to utilise its iPhone trademark within the appropriate time frame, the Brazilian company has since launched the Gradiente IPHONE Neo One, an Android powered handset that is available via the company’s website or from a single, Sao Paulo based retailer.
Gradiente, which applied for the iPhone naming trademark back in 2000, six years prior to Apple’s application, announced back in December that it planned to take “all measures used by companies around the world” in a bid to protect its property rights.
Far from the first time Apple has faced licensing rights around its key product lines, last year the Cupertino based company was forced to shell out $60 million in order secure naming rights for the iPad in mainland China, a deal which ended months of legal action between Apple and a Chinese company.
With Apple reportedly working on a number of new product lines, it has been suggested that any mooted Apple iTV release would see the company’s first own-branded television set face legal action from the UK broadcaster by the same name.
Elsewhere, with the iPod touch and MacBook Air manufacturer reportedly in the process of producing its first wearable gadget, the heavily rumoured Apple iWatch, it is expected such a release would see Apple forced to fork out considerable sums to secure naming rights in key territories.
Should company’s such as Apple be given preferential treatment in trademark patent cases or should the big boys be forced to splash the cash in order to secure naming rights? Share your thoughts on the matter with us via the TrustedReviews Twitter and Facebook feeds or through the comment boxes below.