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Apple loses iPhone trademark in Brazil -- report

The company found out today from Brazilian regulators that it could not own the trademark originally registered to Gradiente Eletronica.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple has lost its iPhone trademark in Brazil, a new report claims.

The BBC is reporting today, citing conversations with employees in the country's regulatory body, the Institute of Industry Property (INPI), that Gradiente Eletronica's registration for the name in 2000 has been validated. Apple, therefore, has no right to use the iPhone name in Brazil.

The INPI confirmed to the BBC, however, that Apple is planning to appeal the ruling.

The INPI ruling comes a little over a week after reports out of the country said that the regulatory body was planning to award the exclusive iPhone trademark to Gradiente.

Despite filing for the iPhone trademark in 2000, Gradiente did not actually put out its own product bearing the name until last December when it started selling Android-based handsets -- a wrinkle that Apple believed, would help it win the rights to the branding. Gradiente has said that it owns the exclusive rights to the iPhone name in Brazil through 2018.

The INPI's ruling reportedly relates only to the use of the iPhone trademark on handsets; Apple can still use the branding on any other product. Gradiente now has the right to sue the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm for exclusivity for handsets, according to the BBC.

Apple is certainly no stranger to battles over trademarks. In early 2007, the company settled a trademark-infringement case with Cisco Systems, which originally owned the iPhone moniker. Apple last year settled another lawsuit with China-based company Proview over the use of the iPad trademark. Proview netted $60 million in that deal.

It's not clear whether Gradiente is looking to settle the case and net millions or maintain the exclusivity of the iPhone branding. However, a report last week quoted a company official who said Gradiente would be "open to a dialogue" with Apple.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on INPI's ruling. We will update this story when we have more information.

This story has been updated throughout the morning.