Apple has filed a challenge with Brazil's INPI trademark and patent office in a bid to secure the right to sell smartphones with the iPhone name in the giant South American country.
In a ruling published Wednesday in its official gazette, INPI rejected Apple's petition to register the iPhone name for its emblematic handset.
The decision, however, allows Apple to use that trademark for products other than mobile phones, an INPI spokesperson told EFE.
The office said the trademark rights belong to Brazilian consumer electronics firm IGB Eletronica, formerly known as Gradiente, which filed its request to use the "iphone" brand name in Brazil in 2000, seven years before Apple did so upon launching its smartphone.
INPI said in its decision that IGB filed its application first and received approval Jan 2, 2008.
The company, which manufactures cellphones and other devices under the Gradiente brand name, began selling its "iphone" line of smartphones last December.
The Brazilian "iphone" uses the Android operating system, which is made by Apple rival Google.
In its petition, Apple argued that Gradiente's rights had expired because it failed to make use of the trademark in the five years after receiving approval.
The INPI spokesperson said that to avoid losing its trademark rights IGB must show within 60 days that it made use of the trademark between January 2008 and January 2013.