Brazil’s Justice Ministry on Tuesday suspended the sale of new iPhones in the country if the devices don’t come with chargers included. The decision concerns the iPhone 12 and all models that followed.
In addition, the ministry slapped Apple with a fine of over BRL 12 million (USD 2.3 million) and called for the iPhone to lose its registration with Anatel, Brazil’s telecommunications regulator.
The decision resulted from an investigation opened in December last year by Senacon, a consumer rights agency operating under the Justice Ministry’s umbrella. In its defense, Apple claimed that the decision not to supply battery chargers with smartphones was to encourage sustainable consumption.
Senacon did not accept the argument. It understands that Apple disrespected Brazilian law by forcing consumers to make two separate purchases to use its smartphone. Such product tying is illegal in the country.
The secretariat also says that the manufacturer could have taken other measures to reduce environmental impact, such as using USB-C connector cables and chargers, an industry standard.
The timing of the decision is complicated, given that the new iPhone 14 launches in less than 24 hours. Apple can still appeal the decision.
In an unrelated case, the Silicon Valley behemoth, which is also the world’s most valuable brand, recently scored a win after Brazil’s Prosecutor General Augusto Aras recommended that the Supreme Court rules with Apple in a decade-long trademark battle over the name “iPhone.”
Apple is in a legal fight with ailing Brazilian tech producer IGB (formerly known as Gradiente), which applied for the trademark of the name “iphone” in 2000.
The trademark would only be granted in 2008, one year after Apple launched the first iteration of its now iconic smartphone. Last year, the two companies ended a 20-session round of negotiations without a settlement.
The Supreme Court has made the IGB-Apple battle a landmark case, meaning it will establish a precedent in how to deal with intellectual property in Brazil.