Apple Loses iPad Trademark during Litigation with Proview Technology in China
Dec. 13 – Apple has recently hit a roadblock in its key growth market China, as a local Chinese court rejected the company’s ownership claim of its iPad trademark. The giant California-based technology company may therefore be forced to either change the name of its tablet computer products in China, or pay a large sum as compensation to its Chinese rival.
The developments are the latest in a long-running dispute between Apple and Proview Technology (Shenzhen), a struggling Taiwanese-owned company that registered trademarks for the name IPAD in many countries long before Apple conceived its smash hit tablet computer.
Normally, Apple is on the receiving end of intellectual property rights infringements in China, with counterfeits extending even to copies of its flagship stores. The US company has nonetheless reported soaring sales over the past three quarters, following a push started last year under which it has so far built four Apple stores in Beijing and Shanghai and 1,000 resellers across the country.
As early as 2000 - long before Apple unveiled the iPad(ipad related: http://www.video-to-ipads.com/) - Hong Kong-headquartered Proview International Holdings Ltd developed a tablet computer and registered the iPad trademark in markets including Europe, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam between 2000 and 2004.
The company's Shenzhen subsidiary registered the trademark in China in 2001. But compared to Apple's iPad, an immense hit across the world today, Proview's tablet bearing the same name was not successful a decade ago.
In late 2009, a Proview subsidiary in Taiwan sold 10 trademarks, including two related to the name iPad(ipad related: http://www.video-to-ipads.com/guides/transfer-movies-to- ...), to a small UK company called IP Application Development (IPAD) - which is owned by Apple - for 350,000 pounds ($546,000). IPAD later transferred rights for the iPad trademarks to Apple Inc for only 10 pounds.
Apple applied for ownership of the two iPad trademarks before it began selling its tablet in China, but Chinese trademark authorities rejected the application because they were already owned by Proview Shenzhen, another affiliate of the Hong Kong parent Proview International, and not included in the Taiwan unit's sales to IPAD.
Apple and IPAD then filed a lawsuit in early 2010 against Proview Shenzhen, but the recent court verdict found that the Proview Technology is not bound by the 2009 deal.
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