The word “iPhone” has come to be predominantly associated with the smartphone giant Apple Inc. Which is why it is interesting to note that the Supreme Court of Brazil has accepted an appeal filed by IGB Eletrônica to assess whether Apple can claim exclusive trademark rights over “iPhone”, which IGB contends is a generic and descriptive mark for a smartphone.
IGB, which carries on its business under the name Gradiente, also contends that it has prior rights over the mark “iPhone” by way of its trademark application for ‘G GRADIENTE IPHONE’ under No. 822112175, filed on March 29, 2000 and registered on January 2, 2008.
IGB has given Apple a run for its money when it came to trademark registrations in Brazil. As reported in 2013, Apple faced several problems, including refusal for its trademark registration, due to IGB’s prior trademark. Apple challenged this before the Brazil’s National Institute of Industrial Property and contended that IGB has not sold any products under the “iPhone” mark whereas Apple has global goodwill in the same. In this battle, IGB lost exclusive rights over the “iPhone” mark but has now brought an appeal before the Supreme Court.
Time will decide what matters more – prior rights or goodwill?