A Brazilian regulatory agency on Wednesday ruled that Apple is not the only company that can exclusively sell smartphones bearing the iPhone name in the country. Gradiente Electronica, a local company that had registered the name in 2000, is the other, the BBC reported.
Gradiente was granted the iPhone trademark in 2008. Apple began selling its iPhone in 2007. Though the company has a different name now (IGB Electronica SA) it began selling a device in the country it calls the iPhone in December 2012. (To add a little insult to injury, the device runs Android.)
Both companies can use the trademark, the Institute of Industrial Property ruled, but Gradiente has the option of suing for exclusive use of it since it registered the name first, according to the report. Apple, meanwhile, is still the only company that can legally sell software, clothing and publications with the iPhone trademark. So, there’s that.
The agency told the BBC that Apple is already planning to appeal. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the story.
The Brazilian company is said to be willing to make a deal with Apple. IGB Chairman Eugenio Emilio Staub told Bloomberg last week his company was “open to a dialogue for anything, anytime … We’re not radicals.”
This is perhaps a temporary setback for Apple, which has high hopes for the country as a market for iPhones and other products. Last year, CEO Tim Cook specifically mentioned Brazil as the most interesting emerging market — after China – for Apple.