Can Apple Fix This iPhone Mess?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has now officially lost the right to use the iPhone name to sell its smartphone in Brazil, with regulators deciding to honor an earlier awarding of the trademark to a local tech firm. Apple’s request to be able to keep using the name was rejected by the Brazilian Institute for Industrial Property on Wednesday.

The right instead went to IGB Eletrônica SA, a Brazilian electronics maker that since December has been selling a smartphone running on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system under the iPhone name. IGB’s Gradiente SA unit had applied to register the name in 2000, while Apple launched the first version of its smartphone in the U.S. in 2007.

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Apple made its first attempt to receive use of the iPhone name in Brazil in 2006, but its application was rejected because IGB had made the request first. Then in 2008, INPI, the trademark-granting authority, went ahead and awarded exclusive rights to the name to the Brazilian company for its iPhone Neo One until 2018.

According to INPI, Apple was still allowed to use the iPhone name for other products, including clothing and pamphlets.

Reuters said that while stopping misuse of the name was beyond the patent office’s purview, any such development could lead to an eventual court case…

Apple, of course, could try and reach an agreement with IGB, whose chairman, Eugênio Emilio Staub, told Bloomberg earlier this month that he would consider selling the rights to the California company. “We’re open to a dialogue for anything, anytime,” Staub had said. “We’re not radicals.”

However, Staub was surprised that Apple had taken the mater lightly until now.

Apple had also been forced to buy the iPhone trademark in the U.S. back in 2007 from Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO), which had been using it for its line of Internet-connected phones since 2000.

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