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New ‘iphone’ to launch in Brazil, but this is no Apple device

A new line of “iphone” handsets has been announced, but Apple won’t be selling them. According to Reuters, Brazilian manufacturer IGB Electronica SA has plans to launch a new set of Android smartphones under essentially the same name as Apple’s competing brand.

Unlike the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s signature lowercase “i” branding, IBG Electronica will spell its smartphone’s name in all capital letters as IPHONE. Although Apple’s iPhone has been on the market since 2007, the Brazilian based electronics maker originally filed a patent for the IPHONE name back in 2000. The company, which was formed this year and was previously known as Gradient, currently has exclusive rights to the title in its local market, Reuters reports, and will call the first model “Neo One.”

According to the security filing for IGB’s IPHONE, Gradiente had foreseen the trend of convergence between voice and data over the Internet when the patent was filed in 200. This type of technology  provides the base for modern data plans seen in smartphones today. The company secured the rights to this IPHONE name from a local regulator of patents in 2008, a year after the first generation Apple iPhone launched.

Little is known about the forthcoming IPHONE handset, but Apple blog iDownloadBlog claims that it well sell for about 600 in Brazilian currency, which translates roughly to $290. It is also said to be based on Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread and pack a 320 x 480 pixel resolution in its display.

The existence of another IPHONE sparks curiosity as to whether or not this will incite another major legal debacle for Apple. Needless to say, this isn’t the first time Apple has encountered these types of problems. As The Verge reports, the company was forced to license the “IOS” trademark from Cisco, which originally held ownership of the term in the United States.  Apple also attempted to ban sales of a device known as the “iFone” on Mexico, but failed to do so.

Only time will tell if the bigwigs in Cupertino decide to take legal action. That being said, Brazil is a fairly crucial nation for the company, as it plans to open new retail locations that would mark Apple’s first South American brick and mortar store. Apple CEO Tim Cook has also previously said that Brazil will be the company’s next major target after China.

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