Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Apple nears deal over Brazilian trademark for iPhone

In mid-February, Apple lost the rights to the iPhone trademark in Brazil. The company seems to be closing in on a resolution, thoug; on Saturday it was reported that Apple is nearing a solution.

IGB Eletronica owns the brand Gradiente, which in turn owns the trademark iPhone. In March 2000, Gradiente asked the Brazilian Industrial Property Institute (known as INPI in Brazil) for exclusive rights to that name. That was about seven years before Apple released the original iPhone.

However, that is about the timeframe when INPI granted IGB the right to trademark the name, 2007, and that year the G-Gradiente iPhone was launched.

At the time, Apple had not yet come out with its iPhone device, and only the iPod and iTunes were known entities in Brazil. It took INPI seven years before they granted IGB the right to trademark the name and that year the G-Gradiente iPhone was launched.

Apple tried to acquire the Brazilian trademark in 2007, right around the time INPI had given exclusivity rights to the name to Gradiente’s smartphone.

In late February, lawyers for both companies filed a court document asking that any legal action be suspended for 30 days as the two companies attempted to settle the matter. The new report, from Brazil’s largest daily, Folha de Sao Paulo, says that the two companies have agreed to a "pacific arrangement," and that the lawsuit will at least be temporarily suspended.

The expectation is that Apple will pay IGB for the use of the iPhone name in Brazil. It would follow other, historical arguments that Apple has had over the iPhone name. In January 2007, shortly after the iPhone was first announced, Apple was forced to come to terms with Cisco Systems, which held the trademark for a VOIP device. The two companies had reached an agreement by February.

In 2012, Apple faced a similar trademark dispute over the iPad name with China-based Proview. Apple ended up paying Proview $60 million as a settlement.

To be clear, though, it appears a final settlement has not been reached. MacMagazine.com.br reported that the lawsuit could be reinstated if a final arrangement cannot be reached between the two companies.

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