Brazilian Phone Company IGB Owns Trademark for Term 'iPhone,' but Willing to Sell to Apple

By Colleen Lynch February 05, 2013

Most people assume a company as big and powerful as Apple Inc. would have the rights to its own name, no matter what country in the world the product is being sold. Strangely enough, however, with Apple this isn’t the case--another company owns the trademark for the term “iPhone” in Brazil.

This creates a problem for Apple, but the company that owns the trademark IGB Electronica SA, has officially said it is open to selling the rights to the term to Apple.

In a recent interview, Eugenio Emilio Staub, the chairman of IGB, said, “We’re open to a dialogue for anything, anytime. We’re not radicals.”

But just how did IGB acquire the rights to “iPhone” in the first place? The company’s Gradiente brand filed to register the trademark back in 2000, but the rights were not officially awarded until 2008.

Gradiente started selling its own iPhone in December, despite the fact that Apple has sold its iPhone in Brazil for several years already.

Image via News Scream

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling has made no comment on the issue, but the company has made a request to be able to use the trademark in Brazil. In this case, if IGB grants Apple the ability to use the trademark without selling it to them, then both companies will sell their separate iPhones concurrently in Brazil, which will definitely lead to some confusion and competition.

The decision has reportedly already been made, although that is the only information available at this point. Staub said he has not been informed of the outcome of the decision.

The institute responsible for granting trademarks in Brazil is known as the INPI institute.

Marcelo Chimento, spokesman for the institute, would not disclose the outcome of the decision, but did say that moving forward, it would be “difficult” to grant Apple approval on their request to use IGB’s iPhone trademark.

The outcome was set to be announced February 5th, but has been postponed to February 13th.

Although the rumors cannot be confirmed, it has been reported in one newspaper, the Folha de S. Paulo, that the exclusive rights to the name for use in mobile phones is still owned by Gradiente.

Officially, no one will know if this is true until February 13.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey

TechZone360 Contributor

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