Brazil's Institute of Industrial Property has ruled that Apple does not have an exclusive trademark on the term "iPhone" in the country, according to the BBC
. Local firm Gradiente Eletronica registered the name in 2000, well before Apple, which only secured the name in 2007. Apple can continue to sell the iPhone in Brazil, but Gradiente now has the option to sue for exclusive rights.
Apple has argued
that Gradiente shouldn't have full rights since it didn't release an iPhone of its own until December 2012. The INPI notes that Apple is looking to appeal today's ruling, but the basis for that is so far unknown. An out-of-court settlement may be another possibility; Gradiente's chairman has previously been quoted as saying that the company is "open to a dialogue for anything, anytime...we're not radicals."
Brazil is an important region for Apple. While iPhone sales there are currently dwarfed by those in countries like the US and Japan, some iPhones are already built at Brazilian facilities run by Foxconn. As a "developing" economy, Brazil also leaves Apple room for sales expansion.