Apple Loses the iPhone Trademark in Brazil, to an Android Manufacturer

February 13, 2013 - Written By Briley Kenney

Apple is no longer the only company with the brand “iPhone” trademarked. We’ve seen lots of companies come close to emulating their formula, especially in the Chinese market where knock-offs are extremely common. What we have never seen before though, is an Android manufacturer legally using the iPhone name.

Poor Apple. I almost feel sorry continuing with this story. Then again, not really.

Brazilian authorities have ruled in favor of Gradiente Electronica, a small local manufacturer. Gradiente has been using the name “iPhone” for their devices since 2000, a little over seven years before Apple even set foot in the region.

The big problem, at least for Apple, is that Gradiente’s device is powered by Android. It’s called the iPhone Neo One, and even though it looks nothing like Apple’s famed devices, it still uses the same brand name. No doubt Apple is adamant on putting an end to this, and it’s likely we’ll see an appeal in the near future. The good news for Apple, is that even If they lose the appeal process later, and they will surely appeal this decision, then they can always work out a deal to license the name with Gradiente.

For now, Gradiente is permitted to keep on using the iPhone name for their device. So essentially, we have an Android powered device, which also happens to be legally branded as an iPhone.

iPhone Neo One Features

As for the Neo One, it’s a 3.7″ dual-core phone running Android Gingerbread (2.3.4), and it costs roughly 599 reals ($304; £196). At least the design isn’t the same as Apple’s true iPhone because that would be a real mess.

I will say it was kind of a shifty move by Gradiente to use the name in the first place, knowing full well that the iPhone brand belonged to another company. These things do happen, obviously, I just hope that folks in Brazil don’t get the Neo One and the actual iPhone confused. I mean, I have a hard time getting my parents to call their Android by the proper name, instead of “my iPhone”.

It would be quite comical if Gradiente turned around and sued Apple for use of the name “iPhone,” at least in Brazil. It probably won’t happen though, unfortunately.

The INPI (Instituto Nacional da Propriedade Industrial) made it clear that the decision only affects handsets, and Apple still has exclusive rights to use the iPhone title with other products like software, various publications and even clothing. Apple is also permitted to continue selling their iPhone devices in the Brazilian market, unless Gradiente sues for exclusivity. Wouldn’t that be something? Here’s to hoping that Apple finally gets a taste of their own medicine in the legal world.

This story amuses me. Undoubtedly, there will be lots of naysayers sharing their opinions below, but that’s okay. At the end of the day, fanboys will be fanboys and fangirls will be fangirls.

At least the “no fragmentation” argument about Apple’s products has gone out the door (hopefully you can detect the sarcasm).

What do you think? Does anyone want to get the Neo One just to rub it in Apple’s face?