According to Brazil’s largest daily newspaper, Folha de São Paulo (via Forbes), Apple and Brazilian company IGB Electronica are close to reaching a settlement agreement over the iPhone trademark in Brazil.
Gradiente Electronica, an electronics brand owned by IGB, filed a trademark application for “iPhone” with the Brazilian Industrial Property Institute (INPI) in 2000, seven years before Apple launched its iPhone. In January 2008, the Brazilian company was granted exclusive trademark rights until 2018, as long as it produced a product bearing the “iPhone” name within five years. Just weeks before the deadline, the company released an Android smartphone called the iPhone Neo One.
Apple challenged the trademark, arguing that IGB had failed to use the trademark until it was close to expiration, but INPI ruled in IGB’s favor, giving IGB the sole right to use the “iPhone” name for smartphones. (Apple retained the right to use the trademark for software and other goods.) Apple appealed the decision, but has since withdrawn legal action after the two companies agreed to come to a “pacific agreement,” according to the Brazilian newspaper.
This news is not surprising.
In an interview with Bloomberg last month, Eugenio Emilio Staub, chairman of IGB, said the company would consider selling naming rights to Apple. “We’re open to a dialogue for anything, anytime,” he said. “We’re not radicals.” Brazil is a key country for Apple. The company will be opening retail stores in Brazil soon, and CEO Tim Cook has cited Brazil as Apple’s next target country.
If Apple’s recent purchase of “iPad” trademark rights in China is any indication, IGB is positioned to gain millions from the deal.