The IPhone Name: IGB Electronica’s Right to Use It Explained

Brazil IPhone Neo One

IGB Electronica intends to release its very own “iPhone” in 2013. With the release of a second “iPhone” line, some Apple customers and fanboys want to claim that it is a trademark violation by the Brazilian company. One notion that Apple customers must keep in mind is that the label “iPhone” existed long before Apple applied it to its first smartphone. The label itself is generic and can refer to any smartphone on the market.

First, let’s examine what “iPhone” stands for: “Internet Phone.” An iPhone, then, is a phone that allows its user to access the Internet. In this sense, each smartphone on the market is dubbed an “iPhone” because they all provide Internet access to users on the road and at home or the office. The name itself is a generic name that Apple has used to its own ends. While Apple’s iPhone refers to a particular design and look, the name itself can refer to any smartphone in existence.

In addition to this, keep in mind that IGB applied for the “iPhone” name back in 2000, seven years before Steve Jobs (Apple’s then-CEO) won rights over the use of the label here in America. While the company may never have used the name until now, IGB does own trademark rights over it. If anyone is in violation of using a moniker that belongs to someone else, Apple is the culprit, not IGB.

Apple applied for the name from the company Cisco but was denied a few times. In the end, Cupertino decided to use the name anyway; Cisco filed a lawsuit in 2007 against Apple because the company revealed the iPhone at the MacWorld Conference with Cisco’s trademark name (iPhone) attached. Apple did the same thing with the “IPad” label: it used the name for years after it applied for the label unsuccessfully from the Chinese company Shenzhen Proview. As with Shenzhen, Apple used a “shell company,” a company that has no authentic operations but exists “on the books” for the sole purpose of providing some convenience or service. It is rather questionable that Apple would set up a shell company for this reason; even if Apple makes stellar products, devising a shell company for purposes of name acquisition is a low resort for a company that claims an “ethical” stance with regard to its jailbreaking policy.

The iPad name, acquired from Shenzhen Proview earlier this year, has a generic meaning. The word is an acronym that means “Internet Personal Access Device.” Proview once owned a collection of computers that it called “IPADs,” and the term fits the idea of a computer just fine. Apple used the label on its tablets for years, but any tablet can bear the name. All tablets are personal devices because individuals who purchase tablets use them; they are all Internet devices because with one touch, you can make your way to any webpage on the World Wide Web. Until 2018, at least, Apple will have to tolerate the same-named product of Brazilian origin.