A Brazilian company this week began selling its own Android-powered smartphones using the iPhone brand name and did so legally.
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Gradiente S.A. told AFP Thursday it could do so because in 2000, it secured the exclusive right to use the iPhone brand name through 2018, before Apple did.
Gradiente said it had obtained the right from Brazil's National Industrial Property Institute, having anticipated a "technological revolution in the cellular world".
"In Brazil, Gradiente has the exclusive right to the iPhone brand in telephones and related accessories. It will adopt all the measures used by companies around the world to preserve its intellectual property rights," a company statement said.
Apple's Brazil spokesperson Maria Parra Rodriguez told AFP the company had no comment.
Gradiente said its first iPhone family model, the Neo One, went on sale Tuesday with a price tag of around $300.
The Neo One features a single core 700MHz processor, a 3.7-inch 480 x 320 display and comes running Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
Other features include dual-SIM support and a 5-megapixel camera on the rear and a 0.3-megapixel front-facing snapper for video calling.