Apple will appeal iPhone Brazil trademark loss

Apple will appeal its lost rights to the "iphone" trademark in Brazil, it's been confirmed, though local firm Gradiente must first prove it has used the term else see its fight with the Cupertino firm scuppered. The Brazilian copyright regulator ruled in favor of Gradiente Eletronica SA earlier this week, after the company pointed out it had filed a request to use the all-lowercase "iphone" name back in 2000; however, approval was only given in 2008, and, Reuters reports, Gradiente must now demonstrate it made use of the name within five years of that point.

The handset likely to be wheeled out to prove that usage is the iphone Neo One, first shown off in mid-December 2012. Running Android on generally humble specifications, and bearing no physical similarities – bar the touchscreen-centric design – to the appearance of Apple's iPhone, the device retails in Brazil for around $304 unlocked and SIM-free.

There's every reason to believe that Gradiente's launch of the iphone Neo One was a tactical one. The company, in order to keep control of the trademark, must demonstrate that it has used it on a product sometime between January 2008 – when it was granted use of the term – and January 2013, a period of five years. Without that, it would be deemed to have not developed the brand appropriately, and thus lose its claim to it.

Apple has apparently requested that this week's decision be reviewed, though if Gradiente doesn't sue over the variants of iPhone Apple offers in the country, the two product ranges can co-exist. That's unlikely to be Gradiente's – or, in fact, IGB Electronica SA, the company formed after Gradiente was restructured – intention, however, with the firm likely to be angling for an out-of-court settlement instead.

That's not without precedent. Apple paid Chinese firm Proview $60m back in July 2012, after attempts to acquire the iPad trademark in the country were mired in controversy. Although Apple insisted that a prior agreement gave it rights to the name, Proview argued differently, and a settlement proved the easiest way to clear the headache.