There are many things that go into making a business successful. One of those things is consumers’ recognition of products in the marketplace. Proper branding, accompanied by copyright and trademark registrations, can make a product more marketable and protect the business. Because of these benefits, it is fairly clear why a business would want to do whatever it could to maintain a copyright or trademark.
Well known company Apple Inc., recently received bad news on this front. The company, which sells its products internationally, learned that it had lost tights to the iPhone trademark in Brazil. The news came from the copyright regulator in that country, Inpi. Apparently another maker of phones in that country had completed and filed a request for the term “iphone” in 2000, a total of seven years before the phone by that name was released by Apple to the masses.
The Brazilian business, Gradiente, became able to use the trademark eight years after the request was filed, in 2008. Gradiente must now prove that upon receiving permission to use the trademark, it did in fact do so. In Brazil, there is a time limit of five years to use the trademark. It appears that smartphones using the name began being sold in the country, in December 2012, just shy of the five year cutoff.
All is not lost for Apple at this point however. The company has options regarding how it will proceed. It is possible that the case could be litigated in a courtroom. Another option is that a settlement agreement could be reached with the Brazilian company.
Source: Reuters, “Apple challenges loss of iPhone trademark in Brazil,” Feb. 14, 2013
- We handle business matters including those pertaining to intellectual property. For more information on the topic, please visit our New York trademark and copyright litigation page.