Gradiente Electronica registered the 'iphone' trademark in 2000, seven years before Apple released its smartphone.
Brazil's copyright regulator has rejected an application from Apple to use its iconic 'iPhone' brand name in the country saying that local company, Gradiente Eletronica, already owns the right to use the name.
Brazil's Institute of Industry Property (INPI) ruled that the firm, now selling Android phones under the trademark, is the fair owner of the brand since it's tradmark application in 2000.
INPI, however, said that Apple can still sell its phones under the iPhone name in the country unless IGB sues Apple for exclusive rights over the trademark.
Apple wanted exclusive rights over the trademark to use for its clothing range, software, publications and handsets.
Apple said that IGB did not use the trademark until December 2012, even though it actually registered the name seven years before Apple launched its popular smartphone.
INPI spokesman, Marcelo Chimento, said that the agency has rejected four trademark applications related to the iPhone.
"Some were rejected because a Brazilian company, Gradiente, made an application for the Gradiente iphone in 2000 and it was approved in 2008," the spokesman said.
"As Apple started its applications for iPhone in 2006, they were denied, because Gradiente had a very similar register for cell phones applied some years before the American company."
The first "iPhone" manufactured by Gradiente Eletronica is known as the Geo One. The phone features a 3.7-inch touch-screen display, Android Gingerbread 2.3 operating system, 700MHz processor, 5MP camera, dual-SIM capability, 3G, WiFi and Bluetooth.