Apple Will Fight For the iPhone

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may eventually have to go down the settlement route, but for the moment, the company is choosing to fight for the right to keep using the iPhone name in Brazil.

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The California company is challenging a ruling made by the company’s trademark authority, Brazilian Institute for Industrial Property, on Wednesday.

Apple lost the right to the trademark in the country on Wednesday after regulators ruled it belonged solely to IGB Eletrônica SA, a Brazilian electronics maker. IGB’s Gradiente SA unit has been selling a smartphone running on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system under the iPhone Neo One name since December.

IGB had applied for the name in 2000, while Apple only launched the first version of its smartphone in the U.S. in 2007. The California company made its first attempt to receive use of the name in Brazil in 2006, but its application was rejected because IGB had made the request first.

However, Apple has now challenged the ruling and asked the INPI to review its decision. According to the agency, Gradiente will now need to prove in over the next 60 days that it made use of the trademark between January 2008 and January 2013 in order to keep its trademark rights…

While trademarks are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis in Brazil, brands must be developed within 5 years of gaining approval.

If Apple’s challenge is rejected after 60 days, it would not have to immediately halt sales of the iPhone in Brazil, but could face a new legal battle over intellectual property rights. An INPI spokesman told Reuters Apple could still take the case to court or negotiate an out-of-court settlement with Gradiente.

IGB chairman Eugênio Emilio Staub had expressed interest in an out-of-court settlement earlier this month. “We’re open to a dialogue for anything, anytime,” Staub told Bloomberg. “We’re not radicals.”

Last year, Apple paid $60 million for rights to the iPad name in mainland China to a local company after several months of court proceedings.

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