Supreme Court will decide if Apple can use 'iPhone' brand in Brazil

iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

What you need to know

  • The Brazilian Supreme Court is taking on the "iPhone" trademark case.
  • IGB Eletrônica S/A and Apple are both suing for sole rights to the brand.
  • The two have been in a legal battle for years.

The Brazilian Supreme Court has decided that it will hear the case as to whether or not Apple can use the "iPhone" trademark in Brazil.

Reported by PRNewswire, IGB Eletrônica S/A says that the decision to hear the case is a win for those who wish to protect intellectual property. The Brazilian company still wants exclusive rights to the iPhone brand and has been fighting Apple for years.

The appellant, IGB Eletrônica S/A, communicated the Supreme Court's decision to the market last Friday. Its shares on the São Paulo Stock Exchange rose 14.09% on Monday and 5,74% on Tuesday. "The Supreme Court's President understood the relevance of the matter to our sovereignty and to the protection of intellectual property in Brazil," celebrated Staub.

IGB had submitted the "iPhone" trademark back in March of 2000, seven years before Apple launched the phone. The Brazilian Institute of Intellectual Property, however, did not grant the registration until 2008, one year after Apple introduced the iPhone to the world market. The Federal Regional Court of the 2nd Region (Rio de Janeiro) had ruled in favor of Apple despite the fact that IGB had submitted the trademark first.

IGB says that Apple's argument, which focuses around when the registration was granted, is unfair and that the trademark should be honored by when it was submitted.

Meanwhile, Apple has filed a lawsuit to claim the "iPhone" brand in Brazil. It stated that the INPI, despite having received the submission from the Gradiente Group in 2000, could not have granted it in 2008, when there was already a product of the same name in the world market. IGB countered. "To state that the circumstances of when the trademark is granted should prevail over those of when it was submitted requires the submitter to be no less than prophetical, and completely subverts the Brazilian intellectual property system", it says in the judicial process.

Apple has already made deals with other companies across the globe in order to acquire the "iPhone" brand for use in all countries it operates in. This seems to be what the company may have to do in Brazil as well.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.