Apple is set to lose its iPhone trademark in Brazil, according to a report from Reuters which cites a source familiar with a forthcoming decision from that country’s copyright regulator. The trademark was challenged by Brazilian electronics firm IGB Electronics SA, which launched a new line of Android phones bearing the name late last year.
The decision will be announced officially on February 13, Reuters reports, at which time Apple is open to challenging it. The Brazilian company has had the trademark since 2000, giving it a lengthy head start over Apple’s own use of the term, but the Android line with the name “iphone” was only launched in December 2012, which could indicate it was an explicit attempt to give its copyright claims more force.
IGB Electronics SA has said in the past that it is willing to discuss selling the trademark rights to Apple, in an interview with Bloomberg from just before news of this decision was reported by Reuters. IGB may be looking for a similar outcome to the case in China last year which saw Proview, a Chinese electronics company, eventually sell its own ownership of the iPhone trademark to Apple for a $60 million payday.
IGB is playing its cards wisely, targeting Apple in one of its key growth demographics. Last year, Tim Cook said that Apple sees “huge opportunity” in Brazil, and the country in many ways mirrors the economic climate in China, which is increasingly important to Apple’s bottom line.
Will Apple have to stop selling iPhones in Brazil? It’s unlikely the company will let it come to that. Either they’ll appeal any decision that comes down, or arrange to purchase the mark from IGB in the interest of expediency. But it does make you wonder if we’ll see more trademark claims pop out of the woodwork in other key international markets.