updated 03:55 pm EST, Tue December 18, 2012
IGB Eletronica says it has held IPHONE name since 1998
Brazilian consumer electronics firm IGB Eletronica announced today that it would be launching its own line of smartphones under the "G IPHONE Gradient" brand in Brazil. The first of IGB's "IPHONEs" will be the Neo One, according to a recent securities filing from the company, which was formed this year after the restructuring of Gradiente Eletronica. Gradiente Eletronica is the firm that initially applied for exclusive rights in Brazil to the iPhone name.
IGB's Neo One will retail for 600 reais, about a quarter of the price for the entry-level iPhone 5 in Brazil, according to Macworld Brasil. The device would run version 2.3 Gingerbread of Google's Android operating system. It features a touchscreen, support for dual-SIM chips, and 3G connectivity.
Gradiente Eletronica filed for exclusive rights in Brazil to register under the G Gradient IPHONE brand back in 2000. A recent filing says that Gradiente had foreseen the revolution in the convergence of voice and data over the Internet before Apple's iPhone existed. The company secured rights to the name in 2008.
IGB's "IPHONE" is unlikely to impact Apple's operations in Brazil, as the Cupertino-based company has been selling iPhones in that country for some years now. Models of the iPhone 4S, built in a Brazilian Foxconn assembly, have been on sale in Brazil since earlier this year, and the iPhone 5 received approval from Brazil's telecommunications regulatory panel in October.
Still, the news is reminiscent of other instances where Apple's iconic branding has come into conflict with existing trademarks on the international market. Apple recently settled a case with Chinese company Proview over the iPad trademark, and last month saw a Mexican company allowed to continue using the iPhone brand name despite Apple's request for an injunction.