When we see companies shamelessly ripping off Apple’s brand, designs and trademarks, we usually think of any number of tiny Chinese knock-off makers (or Samsung).
Now, though, the Brazilians appear to be getting in on the action, as a Brazil-based electronics maker is now planning on launching a new line of Android smartphones that they are calling IPHONES. Yes, really.
Reuters reports that Brazilian device maker IGB Electronica SA plans an entire line of Android devices, starting with the IPHONE Neo One.
The first model will be called “Neo One,” IGB said in a securities filing. The company was formed this year after the restructuring of Gradiente Eletronica SA, which had applied for exclusive rights in Brazil to register its products under the name IPHONE in 2000.
The filing said Gradiente had foreseen the revolution in the convergence of voice and data over the Internet at the time, before Apple Inc’s iPhone existed. In 2008, the company secured rights to the name from a local regulator of patents.
There’s an obvious parallel to this case in the recent trademark dispute Apple fought with Proview in China over the iPad trademark. The difference in that case, though, was that the Chinese owner of the iPad trademark didn’t actually try to sell a line of tablets called iPads, while IGB is doing exactly that: not just content to control the iPhone trademark in Brazil, they intend on competing with Apple in the smartphone market.
In China, the iPad trademark dispute was settled by paying Proview a $60 million fee for ongoing use of the name. One wonders if IGB truly intends on releasing an Android series of iPhones, or if they’re simply holding out for a cash payment.