The BBC is saying that Apple has lost the trademark for “iPhone” in Brazil, to a company that makes an Android-powered phone, of all things. Gradiente Eletronica registered the name “iPhone” in that country back in 2000, years before Apple tried to do the same thing, and so the ruling Institute of Industrial Property there has decided that Gradiente Eletronica owns the trademark, not Apple.
However, things aren’t as plain and simple as that. Gradiente Eletronica hadn’t released a product using the iPhone name until December of 2012. And Apple still has the rights to use the name iPhone on anything outside of the smartphone realm, including on clothing, in software and almost anywhere else.
Apple is reportedly appealing the decision, so we should hear more about this one in the future. What usually happens in this case is that the company from Cupertino ends up paying for the name in a settlement, and indeed, the chairman of Gradiente Eletronica has said that the company is “open to a dialogue for anything, anytime.” But Apple likely wants to get out of this without paying up, especially if it has a legitimate right to the name itself.