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Court ruling strips Apple of exclusive rights to 'iPhone' trademark in Brazil

The Brazilian Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) has ruled against Apple in a lawsuit that will lead the tech giant to lose its exclusive trademark rights to the ‘iPhone’ name in Brazil.

The decision is the result of a lawsuit that followed Brazilian company Gradiente Eletronica's release of its Android-based smartphone called iPhone in January. It was revealed that it had registered the name since 2000, seven years before Apple came out with its signature smartphone. Apple has retained rights to use the name to sell merchandise like clothing and in software and advertising, with the ruling being limited only to handsets. Gradiente can sue for exclusivity rights in South America’s biggest market.

Apple has already filed an appeal challenging the decision with the INPI. It has argued that Gradiente hasn’t used the iPhone trademark between 2008 and early this year and is therefore asking Brazilian regulators to revoke the registration due to expiration.

The company will be able to continue selling its smartphone in the country for now, but how things play out with Gradiente in the picture remains to be seen.