Apple has lost iPhone naming rights in Brazil

Apple has made the iPhone brand a household name but if you happen to live in Brazil, Apple will no longer be able to sell its phone under that moniker after a losing a battle in court.

According to the report by globo.com, Apple has lost the right in Brazil to use the iPhone branding on any product that relates to a mobile phone. This will obviously have a huge impact for Apple in Brazil as it will have to rebrand it's mobile phone in that country as it has the lost the right to a company called Gradiente who acquired the name back in 2000.

The loss of the name has bigger implications for Apple than simply the mobile phone as products such as "Find my iPhone" would have to be renamed as well. As we reportedly previously, Gradiente began selling a phone in December called the iPhone.

The IPHONE (pictured above), as it is called, runs Android 2.3.4, has a 3.7in screen, features dual SIM slots, front and rear cameras (no indication on the sensor size) and is priced at $285.00 off contract.

We will be quite curious to see what Apple renames the iPhone in Brazil.

Source: Oglobo.globo.com | Thanks for the tip @leoberto

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78 Comments

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As I see it, Apple has two obvious options that won't cost much. Either they buy Gradiente or buy the guys who run the agency responsible for registering trade marks. Corruption is widespread in most government agencies in Brazil.

On the business side, I don't see any harm to sales of Apple's iPhone. Apple's products are so expensive in Brazil that only people with high purchasing power can afford to own one.

The Gradiente phone may sell well too, to those less fortunate, whenever they are available in stores. So far, I haven't seen it anywhere.

gallo68 said,

On the business side, I don't see any harm to sales of Apple's iPhone. Apple's products are so expensive in Brazil that only people with high purchasing power can afford to own one.


The more a consumer has choice, the less likely he would buy an iphone.

Hmm wonder if there could be potential customer backlash on the Android device maker. Using a popular brand known world-wide to swindle people.

I can understand wanting to use a popular trademark if you have a different product but came up with the name yourself, but when you delibrately use the name of another product... to me your company is not to be trusted.

mranderson1st said,
Hmm wonder if there could be potential customer backlash on the Android device maker. Using a popular brand known world-wide to swindle people.

I can understand wanting to use a popular trademark if you have a different product but came up with the name yourself, but when you delibrately use the name of another product... to me your company is not to be trusted.

Have you not read anything on this page? Gradiente came up with the name "iPhone" in 2000, before apple did, so they did come up with the name themselves.

So (though this is wild speculation) apple could have somehow found that gradiente had the the rights to this name, but no products released under it, so decided to take the name for themselves.

Who would then be the one you can't trust?

Hahahaha suck it Apple!
So as it turns out they were years and years behind when it came to coming up with the name iPhone eh....so much for all the claims that they were the first.

This couldn't happen to a nicer company lol

There seems to be key information missing from the article. It basically reads "Apple has been selling the iPhone a long time, some other company decided in 2012 they wanted to use the same name, sucks for Apple." I am sure there is some history to why Globo.com won the case that could be included.

nothing missing at all - the patent was files in 2000 (LONG before Apples iPhone existed), as per the link, its taken 12 years to get approved.

Likewise Apple were lucky enough to be able to BUY the name in the US from Cisco/Linksys/Infogear who'd been using it since 1998.

Apple (as usual) are the ones ripping off other peoples IP.

dvb2000 said,
nothing missing at all - the patent was files in 2000 (LONG before Apples iPhone existed), as per the link, its taken 12 years to get approved.
.

Actually it was awarded in 2008 and Globo started selling a phone four years later....
But let the bias run..... like "Metro" becoming "Modern".....

sphbecker said,
There seems to be key information missing from the article. It basically reads "Apple has been selling the iPhone a long time, some other company decided in 2012 they wanted to use the same name, sucks for Apple." I am sure there is some history to why Globo.com won the case that could be included.

Globo.com is the news site. The company in dispute with Apple is GRADIENTE.

We will be quite curious to see what Apple renames the iPhone in Brazil.

aPhone.

what exactly the prefix "i" means in Apple's products anyway?

Torolol said,

what exactly the prefix "i" means in Apple's products anyway?

When the iMac came out, it was said it was for Internet. Now it's just a letter.

The company started selling a phone in December.... it looks like a scam....
They will end up selling the rights for the name to Apple for a big amount of money.

How can it be a scam when they acquired the name back in 2000?

Back then there weren't any iPhones, or even iPods. So unless they could see into the future, it isn't really a scam.

-Razorfold said,
How can it be a scam when they acquired the name back in 2000?

Back then there weren't any iPhones, or even iPods. So unless they could see into the future, it isn't really a scam.


Did you miss the part of the article saying that they started making a phone in December?
Obviously they are either trying to capitalize on a well recognized name for a smartphone or leveraging the amount of money they will ask to Apple.
Any Country has different regulations for trademark Bu in the US, for example, if you do not actively sell a product under your registered trademark you loose the right to use it.

-Razorfold said,
How can it be a scam when they acquired the name back in 2000?

Back then there weren't any iPhones, or even iPods. So unless they could see into the future, it isn't really a scam.


Not that Apple ever cares... They didn't even own "iPhone" in the US...

Fritzly said,

Did you miss the part of the article saying that they started making a phone in December?
Obviously they are either trying to capitalize on a well recognized name for a smartphone or leveraging the amount of money they will ask to Apple.

Maybe they have just had their "iphone" in developement for 12 years?

Fritzly said,

Any Country has different regulations for trademark But in the US, for example, if you do not actively sell a product under your registered trademark you loose the right to use it.

As you said, "another country's regulations". Apple lost in their court so about the only thing they can do at this point is throw lots of money at them for a license to name Apple's product "iPhone".

On a side note, this must really be eating at Apple to have a "iPhone" out there sporting that lil green robot, hehe.

-Razorfold said,
How can it be a scam when they acquired the name back in 2000?

Back then there weren't any iPhones, or even iPods. So unless they could see into the future, it isn't really a scam.

And besides a little digging always help:

it seems that this company hired a clairvoyant indeed:

Quote
December 28, 2012 10:39AM
Last week, Gradiente said it filed its request to use the iPhone brand in 2000 when it realized "there would be a technological revolution in the world of cellphones with the convergence of voice and data Relevant Products/Services transmission and reception via mobile Relevant Products/Services Internet."

In 2008 Brazil's government gave Gradiente the right to use the brand on its cellphones. Brazil's trademark office said Gradiente requested permission to use the brand before Apple did and has the exclusive right to use it through 2018.
Unquote

http://business.newsfactor.com...xhtml?story_id=13100AYHMXE3

I am agnostic and as such I am always baffled by the way people react depending by which brand is the subject... but Apple started using the "I" in 1998 with the iMac.

Edited by Fritzly, Feb 2 2013, 9:02pm :

Fritzly said,
The company started selling a phone in December.... it looks like a scam....
They will end up selling the rights for the name to Apple for a big amount of money.

Not a scam, it actually runs Android! How Android are scam?

Last week, Gradiente said it filed its request to use the iPhone brand in 2000 when it realized "there would be a technological revolution in the world of cellphones with the convergence of voice and data Relevant Products/Services transmission and reception via mobile Relevant Products/Services Internet."

So that could mean that they were planning to make a phone in the future and wanted to trademark the name.

I am agnostic and as such I am always baffled by the way people react depending by which brand is the subject... but Apple started using the "I" in 1998 with the iMac.

Yes I know Apple started using the i, but they didn't invent the letter. In 2000 Apple was still very much a dying company that nobody thought would be relevant in anything.

There's no way that Gradiente would have known Apple would release a music player, a phone and a tablet all with the i prefix. So saying that they trademarked the name so they could scam money from Apple 12 years later is crazy.

-Razorfold said,

Yes I know Apple started using the i, but they didn't invent the letter. In 2000 Apple was still very much a dying company that nobody thought would be relevant in anything.

If Apple,was in 2000 a dying company with 4 billions in cash deserve... What is Nokia today? A buried company?

If Apple,was in 2000 a dying company with 4 billions in cash deserve... What is Nokia today? A buried company?

Yes because Apple in 2000 was such a thriving company right? It wasn't like 2-3 years before that they were bankrupt and got bailed out by Microsoft.

Nobody in 2000 could have forseen Apple making a phone and a tablet and taking over the market. That's my point.

Oh and btw Nokia has $5.2 billion in cash reserves. So according to your logic if Nokia is a buried company then Apple is well even deeper.

Brazil simply kept closed in 2000 and not allowing Gradiente to create anything till 2012. Apple was first to create a media player that better than those CD Cassette, they have no intention of making iPhone till 2007. So Gradiente's iPhone (Internet Phone) runs Android 2.0 and the spec are pretty low compared to other Android phones.

Fritzly said,

Did you miss the part of the article saying that they started making a phone in December?
Obviously they are either trying to capitalize on a well recognized name for a smartphone or leveraging the amount of money they will ask to Apple.
Any Country has different regulations for trademark Bu in the US, for example, if you do not actively sell a product under your registered trademark you loose the right to use it.
they started making the ohone after the trademark was finally granted. Did you miss that in the article?

sM4llziE said,
Could they not just call it the eyePhone or something? Maybe even the Apple Phone!?

Of course they could but iPhone has a lot of mindshare behind it, something another company can now use to their benefit. We all here see a clear difference between a real iPhone and this thing. However when the average consumer wants 'a phone that can do a lot of things' they think about an iPhone because they've heard thats a really good one. Even worse some call any smartphone and any tablet an iPhone and an iPad.

So this will hurt Apple in the Brazil market. Which is one of the growing markets so they want to make sure they capture a reasonable marketshare before its saturated. They can stil be huge in the USA but if they fail in countries such as Brazil and China then their worldwide marketshare will make a serious dive. Which is an important factor for developers when they decide if they go exclusive for Apple, Android or multiplatform.

It doesn't mean that Apple can't just buy this company or pay them to use it. And what does that company gain? Like people gonna buy their phone since it's called iphone?

volodoscope said,
It doesn't mean that Apple can't just buy this company or pay them to use it. And what does that company gain? Like people gonna buy their phone since it's called iphone?

If people wants android then yeah.

Not sell the iPhone in Brazil? I can't believe they will be losing that much market if they did. People there will still try to import one.

I think they would lose a lot of money, actually, from people moving into Galaxy S3. While most people do prefer iPhones, everyone I know who has an iPhone either won from their company or bought overseas. Everyone else seems to be buying Windows Phone/Android (mostly galaxies, but also xperias). If it loses the popularity, people will just buy the WP/Android instead.

The Laughing Man said,
That company is begging to be buried by Apple.

I find that unlikely, since Apple in this case is a foreign company in dispute with a Domestic company, and Gradiente has the law on its side since it registered the name way back.

I find Gradiente to quite an 'average' company and their products wouldn't be my first option. Nonetheless it is nice to see Apple getting a taste of their own medicine.

Love or hate Apple, the Android phone that was released under the iPhone name was clearly not done under good faith.

The company did legitimately obtain the name by filing in Brazil back in 2000, but for some reason Brazil did not approve it until 2008--the year after the original iPhone was released.

As a result, Apple had no way of avoiding it, and this company is just cashing in on other's work.

This is the biggest problem with being a multinational company: dealing with countries that are either anti-American, or simply corrupt.

Fortunately for Apple, the majority of iPhones made for Brazil are now made in Brazil, due to their extremely high import duties (taxes, which I believe are on the order of 20%). This means that they can simply imprint something other than "iPhone" on the back of them, and then release a different localization file that changes "iPhone" to whatever they come up with for Brazil.

I have a few friends from Brazil, and they cover the range from pro-US to frequently anti-US, but they are all extremely conscious of the import duty whenever they go home. I think that it would be quite interesting to see what Brazil would think of Apple simply turning off the manufacturing wing there, and forcing people to pay for the phones with the duty. Short term, I suspect the high tax would benefit the government, but I suspect that long term people would buy less of them, leaving people using inferior products (that's not a shot at Android or my Lumia 920, but there's no way that the above "iPhone" competes with the likes of the Galaxy lineup). It would equate to lost jobs and lost technology. Again, love or hate Apple, they are the king right now in the mobile space by singular numbers, and being left behind by that is pretty disastrous on a national level.

pickypg said,
Love or hate Apple, the Android phone that was released under the iPhone name was clearly not done under good faith.

The company did legitimately obtain the name by filing in Brazil back in 2000, but for some reason Brazil did not approve it until 2008--the year after the original iPhone was released.

oh, you mean JUST LIKE APPLE DOES with all its retrospectively approved patents!

Spare me. The 'iphone' brand took that long to be granted to Gradiente not because of "Anti-US" bias or "corruption", but because of bureaucracy and because the company was strugling to keep their doors open. Also, the Gradiente Iphone with Android was not the company's first phone. They started building phones in the 2000's.
Also, as far as I know, Apple doesnt have a "manufacturing wing" here. Foxconn does. And I'm sure there's enough demand to convince the chineses just to adapt the plants to another smartphone maker.

dvb2000 said,

oh, you mean JUST LIKE APPLE DOES with all its retrospectively approved patents!

Whatever happened to two wrongs don't make a right?
leoberto said,
Spare me. The 'iphone' brand took that long to be granted to Gradiente not because of "Anti-US" bias or "corruption", but because of bureaucracy and because the company was strugling to keep their doors open. Also, the Gradiente Iphone with Android was not the company's first phone. They started building phones in the 2000's.
Also, as far as I know, Apple doesnt have a "manufacturing wing" here. Foxconn does. And I'm sure there's enough demand to convince the chineses just to adapt the plants to another smartphone maker.
If it takes eight years to approve a trademark, then it is no wonder that the company was struggling. Eight years is something quite more than bureaucracy.

Regardless of bureaucracy or corruption, it didn't have to be their first phone to be in bad faith, and I would say the fact that it was not the first makes it worse. Shy of being impossibly blind to the world around them, releasing a phone named after the single-most popular phone on the market for five years is clearly bad faith, particularly after noting that the phone came out before they received the trademark. Clearly, Gradiente acted properly in getting the trademark. Also, I do believe that they are within their rights to use it, but that does not mean that I agree with it even remotely. It will be interesting to see if Apple buys the trademark at great cost to themselves; I wonder if either side negotiated before, with Apple hoping that the court would decide in their favor (in which case, I hope that Apple ends up writing a big check).

As for Foxconn owning the manufacturing line--that's quite true, but it is quite clear why that line exists, and for whom it was created. Samsung, the only competitor that has the demand to need such a manufacturing line to bypass ridiculous import duties, does not use Foxconn for its manufacturing needs.

pickypg said,
it didn't have to be their first phone to be in bad faith

you mean like Apple releasing the iPhone in Brazil when they didn't have the trademark registered?

I agree that they should have gotten it, but if no one else owns the trademark, then technically they do not have too. You can release a product without a trademark, it just means that other people can name their products the same thing and you can't trademark it at that point. With that last bit in mind, it would be common sense to assume that Apple's Brazilian wing likely filed trademark registration papers shortly before/after its announcement.

I suspect that they did have lawyers file the paperwork, but I would bet that they thought it would just be awhile. Once again, it wasn't until a year after the original iPhone was released that the other company was awarded their trademark that was filed for over eight years prior, which means that Apple likely had no reason to assume that it would be in contention before they filed.

pickypg said,
Love or hate Apple, the Android phone that was released under the iPhone name was clearly not done under good faith.

The company did legitimately obtain the name by filing in Brazil back in 2000, but for some reason Brazil did not approve it until 2008--the year after the original iPhone was released.

As a result, Apple had no way of avoiding it, and this company is just cashing in on other's work.

This is the biggest problem with being a multinational company: dealing with countries that are either anti-American, or simply corrupt.

Fortunately for Apple, the majority of iPhones made for Brazil are now made in Brazil, due to their extremely high import duties (taxes, which I believe are on the order of 20%). This means that they can simply imprint something other than "iPhone" on the back of them, and then release a different localization file that changes "iPhone" to whatever they come up with for Brazil.

I have a few friends from Brazil, and they cover the range from pro-US to frequently anti-US, but they are all extremely conscious of the import duty whenever they go home. I think that it would be quite interesting to see what Brazil would think of Apple simply turning off the manufacturing wing there, and forcing people to pay for the phones with the duty. Short term, I suspect the high tax would benefit the government, but I suspect that long term people would buy less of them, leaving people using inferior products (that's not a shot at Android or my Lumia 920, but there's no way that the above "iPhone" competes with the likes of the Galaxy lineup). It would equate to lost jobs and lost technology. Again, love or hate Apple, they are the king right now in the mobile space by singular numbers, and being left behind by that is pretty disastrous on a national level.

Well, not unlike the USA, Brazil has lots of stupid politicians but I don't think this is a case. However, closing the Brazilian wing would not affect us in any way as iPhones are already ridiculously overpriced.

Years ago I made the calculations and it would be less expensive to buy a ticket to New York, fly there, buy an iPhone and come back, than buying the phone here in Brazil.
And Galaxy S3 seems to be growing in popularity here, anyways, so the biggest loser would be Apple.

pickypg said,
Love or hate Apple, the Android phone that was released under the iPhone name was clearly not done under good faith.

The company did legitimately obtain the name by filing in Brazil back in 2000, but for some reason Brazil did not approve it until 2008--the year after the original iPhone was released.

As a result, Apple had no way of avoiding it, and this company is just cashing in on other's work.

This is the biggest problem with being a multinational company: dealing with countries that are either anti-American, or simply corrupt.

Fortunately for Apple, the majority of iPhones made for Brazil are now made in Brazil, due to their extremely high import duties (taxes, which I believe are on the order of 20%). This means that they can simply imprint something other than "iPhone" on the back of them, and then release a different localization file that changes "iPhone" to whatever they come up with for Brazil.

I have a few friends from Brazil, and they cover the range from pro-US to frequently anti-US, but they are all extremely conscious of the import duty whenever they go home. I think that it would be quite interesting to see what Brazil would think of Apple simply turning off the manufacturing wing there, and forcing people to pay for the phones with the duty. Short term, I suspect the high tax would benefit the government, but I suspect that long term people would buy less of them, leaving people using inferior products (that's not a shot at Android or my Lumia 920, but there's no way that the above "iPhone" competes with the likes of the Galaxy lineup). It would equate to lost jobs and lost technology. Again, love or hate Apple, they are the king right now in the mobile space by singular numbers, and being left behind by that is pretty disastrous on a national level.

Wait. They applied for the name in 2000 which Apple had to have known about just like they did with Cisco and used the name anyway and youre criticizing this company? Dude. Apple thought being big and having gobbs of monry they could jyst push them iut the way. They coukdnt and I am glad the little guy won. They applied fir it. Why the process took so long doesnt matter. Looj here in the USA, Google already applied for the notifucation window Apple stole. Once it is granted to Google Apple is going to have to euther pay up or drop it.

Siding with Apple when they are clearky in the wrong is just plain stupidity.

The company applied for the name and they have a right to it even if someone else stole it and popularized it. Apple chose to litigate as oppose to sitting down and trying to buy the name from them. And even if they tried after waiting 8 years to get approval, they have every right to use it. To side with Apple when they are clearly wrong is just ludicris

What a bunch of BS. Gradiente had the idea for the iPhone brand back in 2000 and even released phones under that brand, according to the company's official in this YouTube video explaining the case (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkRf6Gv4NtU) which is in Portuguese.

Apple lost because Gradiente got the name first. Stop whining and extrapolating on ad-hominem rhetoric of "corruption" and "anti-Americanism".