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Apple challenges loss of iPhone trademark in Brazil

A man poses with an iPhone during Earth Hour in the center of Brasilia March 31, 2012. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino
A man poses with an iPhone during Earth Hour in the center of Brasilia March 31, 2012. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Apple Inc, which lost the rights to its iPhone trademark in Brazil on Wednesday, is challenging the ruling by Brazil's copyright regulator to prevent local firm Gradiente Eletronica SA from using the "iphone" brand name.

The regulator, Inpi, ruled on Wednesday that the rights to the trademark belong to Gradiente, prompting California-based Apple to request that the decision be reviewed in Latin America's largest market.

Consumer electronics maker Gradiente had filed its request to use the "iphone" brand in 2000, seven years before Apple launched its smartphone, but received approval to use the trademark only in 2008.

Now, in order to keep its trademark rights, Gradiente will need to prove to the regulator in the next 60 days that it made use of the trademark between January 2008 and January 2013, Inpi said late on Wednesday. Brands in Brazil must be developed within 5 years of gaining approval.

IGB Eletronica SA, a company formed after the restructuring of Gradiente, launched its "iphone" line of smartphones last December.

Officials from Apple and Gradiente didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

An Inpi spokesman said Apple could still take the case to court or negotiate an out-of-court settlement with Gradiente.

(Reporting by Juliana Schincariol; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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