Steve Jobs White iPhone 4 No More

When Apple acquired rights to the iPhone moniker from Cisco ahead of the 2007 iPhone launch, the company probably never dreamed that it could face losing naming rights in Brazil. Reuters in December 2012 relayed a local report explaining that the Brazilian electronics maker IGB Eletrônica SA owns a trademark for the “IPHONE” term in Brazil. And now, another report has it that IGB could indeed be the rightful holder of the iPhone trademark in the country…

Our reader Douglas passed along a story by Oglobo which explains that Gradiente, an IGB brand, has been selling its G-Gradiente iPhone since 2000. The company allegedly has won the rights to use the iPhone moniker for its products back in 2008 following a patent request made in 2000.

IGB Electronica iPhone (image 002)
IGB’s Android-driven G-Gradiente iPhone.

Forbes follows up, writing that “it is unlikely that Apple’s 2007 request with the Brazilian Institute for Industrial Property (INPI) to make iPhone an exclusive Apple trademark will pass muster”.

Gradiente launched its G-Gradiente iPhone just fifteen days before its trademark rights expired. The INPI is scheduled to announce its decision on the dispute in the Industrial Property Magazine tomorrow, February 5.

Looks like Gradiente has a solid case here, which means Apple is likely going to have to pay millions of dollars to acquire the iPhone moniker from the company.

Apple faced a similar situation in China over the iPad moniker and eventually had to pay $60 million to acquire the trademark from bankrupt Chinese company ProView.

We will be following how this story unfolds and update you with latest developments.