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The following is certainly heresy in Cupertino, Calif.: An “iphone” running off an Android operating system.
Yes, one exists thousands of miles away in the land of Carnival, beaches and the Girl from Ipanema.
Gradiente, a Brazilian company, has begun selling a 3G smartphone carrying the iPhone name with a lower-cased “P” after receiving the government’s blessings. The company has the exclusive right to use the name through 2018, according to media reports. The phone, however, runs off an older version of Google’s Android operating system, the 2.3, not Cupertino-based Apple’s iOS. It also sells for half the price of a “real” iPhone.
In a statement obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, Gradiente said it first filed to tradmark the name in 2000 because it realized “a technological revolution” was coming that would change “the world of cellphones with the convergence of voice and data transmission and reception via mobile Internet.” The trademark filing was seven years before Apple began selling its iPhone in Brazil.
Gradiente received government approval in 2008 and recently began selling phones carrying the name. Other than the name, the phone has little external and internal resemblance to the latest iPhone from Apple. (Here’s a link with images and more information on the phone, but you’ll need to know Portuguese).
What now? Apple, which has not commented publicly about Gradiente, may end up fighting demands to pay big bucks to Gradiente for using the name on phones in Brazil. Earlier this year Apple paid the Chinese company Proview Technology $60 million to settle a trademark infringement case involving the iPad name. Before the settlement, Proview had demanded that iPad sales in China be banned until the issue was resolved.