Brazil's Prosecutor General Sides With Apple in Long-Running 'iPhone' Trademark Dispute

The Brazilian Supreme Court has issued a favorable opinion to Apple in a long-running dispute over the exclusive use of the iPhone brand in the country, local media reports.

gradiente iphone white
For those unfamiliar with the case, Brazil's highest court accepted a constitutional appeal in 2020 by ISB Electronica, an electronics company that registered the ‌‌iPhone‌‌ trademark in Brazil in 2000.

Under the name Gradiente, IGB Electronica produced a line of IPHONE-branded Android smartphones in Brazil in 2012, and there was a period of time where the Brazilian company was given exclusive rights to the ‌‌iPhone‌‌ trademark.

The appeal resulted in a trademark battle that saw both Apple and IGB Electronica given the rights to use the name in the country, but that didn't prevent back and forth judicial fighting between the two, with each company attempting to gain exclusive rights to the trademark.

A 2018 decision upheld a 2013 ruling that gave both brands permission to use the trademark, but then IGB Electronica revived the dispute in an attempt to get the 2018 decision reversed by Brazil's Supreme Federal Court.

In the latest development in the case, Brazilian Prosecutor General Augusto Aras last Friday gave his assent to Apple's position. Aras said that even though IGB Electronica applied to register the ‌iPhone‌ trademark several years before Apple's smartphone was launched, the "‌iPhone‌" brand has since become a globally recognized name, and therefore plays an important role in the world electronics market.

For this reason, Aras said the use of the ‌iPhone‌ brand should not be subject to the traditional question of who registered the name first, but instead the "supervening context and relevant factual changes" should be considered before a decision is made.

According to Tilt (via MacMagazine), the Prosecutor General's opinion has now been delivered to the Brazilian Supreme Court, which will hear the case and come to a decision, although a date for the hearing has not been scheduled.

Top Rated Comments

Robert.Walter Avatar
23 months ago
Although I would like to see apple have exclusive use of the iPhone name, this decision is quite bizarre.

I’m not a trademark attorney but I’ve never heard of somebody losing their intellectual property (here ™) because some other player became more successful using that name both later and elsewhere.

This decision doesn’t really uphold the point of registering a trademark if it can later can be reversed on such convenient and spongy grounds.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ProfessionalFan Avatar
23 months ago

Although I would like to see apple have exclusive use of the iPhone name, this decision is quite bizarre.

I’m not a trademark attorney but I’ve never heard of somebody losing their intellectual property (here ™) because some other player became more successful using that name both later and elsewhere.

This decision doesn’t really uphold the point of registering a trademark if it can later can be reversed on such convenient and spongy grounds.
I agree that this seems unusual.

However, I think a big point here was that they didn't use the trademark until years after the iPhone was released. Which could make some see this as them trying to capitalize off the success of Apple's iPhone. Had they used it prior to the iPhone release, I wonder if this would've ended differently. Even though they registered it in 2000, they didn't actually have a product with the name until 2012.

I'm not a lawyer either though.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Edsel Avatar
23 months ago
Mother Nature is still awaiting a decision on "apple v. Apple, Inc"
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ph001bi Avatar
23 months ago
Finally a logical decision by a court. It's amazing that it took 12 years and having to go to the Supreme Court in order to obtain this result.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
darngooddesign Avatar
23 months ago
Had they been making and selling "Iphones" before Apple released its "iPhone" then the decision likely would have been different.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kaikidan Avatar
23 months ago

I agree that this seems unusual.

However, I think a big point here was that they didn't use the trademark until years after the iPhone was released. Which could make some see this as them trying to capitalize off the success of Apple's iPhone. Had they used it prior to the iPhone release, I wonder if this would've ended differently. Even though they registered it in 2000, they didn't actually have a product with the name until 2012.

I'm not a lawyer either though.
Since the indrotuction of the iMac it become common practice for copyright trolls and other brands to patent i[Devicename] as it's a pretty low hanging fruit in name terms, just slaps i in front of every possible name before anyone else and sue apple if they use "your" trademark in a new product or try to sell the rights to the name, that's basically what gradient did, they are not even in the market anymore for ages (last time I remember purchasing something from them was the N64, they got the rights to import nintendo products here for a time after nintendo ended the deal with playtronic who sold the SNES here), probably become a mutilaser like company who buy cheap whitelabel crap from aliexpress and resell there with their brand for 8x the cost. that's why apple stoped using i on the name of newer products, it's way harder for someone to launch a product named apple watch or apple tv than iWatch or iTv.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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