Battle for a trademark iPhone between the Brazilian IGB Eletrônica SA and Apple continues for the thirteenth year. This conflict has already been “finally settled” twice by the Brazilian federal authorities, the last time in 2018 – but in May of this year, IGB Electronics (this is the international name of IGB Eletrônica SA), which was on the verge of bankruptcy, filed a lawsuit with the Brazilian Supreme Court demanding to cancel the decision of a lower instances in 2018. Return the exclusive right to the disputed trademark to her and recover R $ 1 billion from Apple in damages. Hopes for a peaceful resolution of the conflict did not materialize: the Brazilian Supreme Court is ready to side with the plaintiff and will soon make its decision.
In the lawsuit, the company stated the following:
And it also says that the decision of the regulatory body (lower-level instance) violates basic constitutional rights, that it is unfair, illegal and wrong. Commenting on the lawsuit, the Brazilian media accuses Apple of discriminating against small companies, although IGB Eletrônica SA, aka IGB Electronics and Gradiente, is a fairly large company, almost 20 thousand people worked in it before the pandemic. The Brazilian press, of course, is entirely on the side of IGB Electronics, in its presentation Apple Computer (which registered the iPhone trademark at the end of 2006) appears in a terrible light: Steve wanted to call the smartphone that way, and he did not care if this name was free or not.
As if apple lawyers (and employees of the American Patent and Trademark Office) were only interested in whether this mark was registered in the countries of the “first world” – the USA, Canada and some European countries – and they did not even pay attention to Brazil. It is not true. I will tell you about how everything really happened at the end of the article. First, let’s figure out what is still threatening Apple.
Apple will be robbed of the iPhone trademark?
Even the highest court of the Federative Republic of Brazil (the Supreme Court) has no right to prohibit or demand anything outside of its jurisdiction. He is the highest authority in the territory of the Federal Republic.
In 2013 INPI (Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Property, analogue of the US Patent and Trademark Office) confirmed Gradiente’s exclusive trademark rights. Apple has been banned from selling iPhones in the country and even abroad, throughout Latin America. Violations were punished with harsh sanctions, up to and including confiscation, but the iPhone (from Apple) was sold in Latin America before the decision was made and was sold under it.
Meanwhile, Brazil is one of the world’s largest importers of iPhone and various other apple technology. But the plant for the assembly of the iPhone and components for it, which was already under construction, was banned from commissioning. Actually, in 2018, INPI canceled this decision due to the fact that it did not work and was laughed at. The billion reais Apple is likely to pay is $ 186.3 million, for Apple in 2020, this is quite a lifting amount. Perhaps this is exactly what the plaintiff is seeking. And what do you think? Let’s discuss in our Telegram chat.
Apple Stole iPhone Name?
A Brazilian company with two official names (IGB Eletrônica SA and IGB Electronics are internal and external versions of the same name) in 2000 registered the IPHONE trademark with INPI. But the project for which this trade mark was registered did not take place. Until 2012, this trademark was not used in any way.
In 2006, when Steve Jobs “saw” that the smartest phone in the world, the development of which was nearing completion and which needed to be presented to the world – namely the iPhone, he ordered lawyers to check all over the world – up to Africa and Papua New Guinea – not whether this trademark is registered anywhere. Found in several countries of the world, including Brazil – and everywhere, except Brazil, the trademark was either redeemed or rented.
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Negotiations with the head of Gradiente did not lead to anything – he refused. It is said that he demanded an unacceptably large compensation, which in 2006 Apple could not agree to. Steve, on reflection, decided to ignore this conflict – because Gradiente will not take any retaliatory actions, at least in the next few years.
They say that some kind of agreement was reached between Steve and Eugeniu Emilio, but this is only a guess. You already know the rest. In 2013, the exclusive right of IGB Eletrônica SA to the iPhone trademark was confirmed, in 2018 it was allowed to be used by both companies, in May 2020 IGB Eletrônica SA applied to the highest court in its country, and in the coming weeks, and maybe even days, there will be third accepted final decision on a 13-year dispute…