Los Angeles – Apple is expected to make an offer on the IPHONE trademark in Brazil which is currently owned by IGB Eletrônica SA. IGB Eletrônica SA released an Android-powered smartphone called the IPHONE Neo One under the company’s Gradiente brand this month.
Gradiente said that it will take all measures available to it to protect its intellectual property rights, as it does not believe the two brands can coexist in the same market.
Gradiente applied for the trademark in 2000, two years after Apple launched the iMac, but six years before Apple announced the launch of the iPhone at Macworld San Francisco.
Gradiente was granted the right to use the trademark on its smartphones in Brazil in 2008. Brazil’s trademark office said that Gradiente requested the right to the trademark before Apple and therefore it has exclusive rights to the brand until 2018.
Despite being granted the right to use the trademark in 2008, Gradiente did not start using the trademark on smartphones until last week. The company claims its focus had been on a corporate restructuring process, which it wrapped up earlier this year.
Gradiente said it registered the trademark because it expected “there would be a technological revolution in the world of smartphones with the convergence of voice and data transmission and reception via mobile Internet.”
The company, however, has not kept up with the technological revolution. The phone’s appearance is similar to Apple’s iPhone, but it runs on the outdated 2.3 version of Android’s operating system. The phone features a 3.7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 3G and a camera.
Gradiente said it currently does not plan to sell or license the rights to the brand, but it is likely that Gradiente and Apple will come to some agreement that will allow Apple to use the trademark, as Apple will not want to stop selling the iPhone in Brazil.
This is not the first time Apple has had international competition for its trademarks. Due to a loophole in its contract, Apple was unable to procure rights to the iPad brand in China from Proview Technology before it launched the iPad. Apple ended up paying Proview $60 million for the trademark.
The trademark in Brazil is not expected to bring that much money in, as the market is significantly smaller in Brazil than it is in China. However, the company will likely still pay a substantial amount of money for the trademark, thanks to the popularity of the iPhone name.