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Apple to lose iPhone trademark in Brazil: source

A sign of the new iPhone 5 is seen at the entrance of an Apple Store in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai December 14, 2012. REUT
A sign of the new iPhone 5 is seen at the entrance of an Apple Store in the financial district of Pudong in Shanghai December 14, 2012. REUT

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil's copyright regulator will strip Apple Inc of the right to use its iPhone trademark in Latin America's biggest market and granted the trademark to a local company that registered it first, a source familiar with the decision said on Tuesday.

Gradiente Eletronica SA, a Brazilian consumer electronics maker, registered the "iphone" name in 2000, seven years before Apple launched its now virally popular smartphone.

The Brazilian Institute of Intellectual Property will officially announce its decision on Feb 13, the source said.

Apple could then challenge the ruling in the Brazilian courts.

A spokesperson with Apple in Brazil declined to comment.

With a swelling middle class anxious to go online, Brazil is one of the fastest-growing markets for smartphones in the world.

IGB Eletronica SA, a company formed after the restructuring of Gradiente, launched its "iphone" line of smartphones last December.

The Android cellphone is marketed for 599 reais ($302) and comes both in black and white, as does Apple's.

(Reporting by Juliana Schincariol; Written by Esteban Israel; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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