BEIJING, Dec. 9 (Xinhuanet) -- The term "iPad" instantly brings to mind the world's favorite super-tablet created by the late Steve Jobs. But now, Apple has been denied the rights to the trademark for the term "iPad" in China, in a legal battle with Hong Kong-based Proview Technology. Proview registered the trademark back in 2000, and it’s been a series of back-and-forth lawsuits ever since.
The triumphant rise of Apple’s iPad in the lucrative Chinese market has hit an unexpected stumbling block. Apple originally sued Proview Technology, a Hong Kong-based tech company, for trademark infringement. A court in southern China has rejected the company’s claim to the iPad trademark, potentially putting a dent in sales in the world’s largest consumer market.
At the heart of the dispute is whether or not a 2006 agreement between Proview’s Taiwan-based subsidiary, to sell Apple the "global trademark" for the iPad name for around 54 thousand U.S. dollars, includes China. Apple says yes, and Proview disagrees - it says the Chinese trademark rights are actually owned by its Shenzhen-based company, and are different to those owned by its Taiwan subsidiary.
Xie Xianghui, lawyer for Proview Technology said: "Actually we believe Apple infringed our client’s trademark earlier, when it released the iPad on the Chinese mainland market, which is already in breach of the law."
Proview currently uses the iPad name on several of its products, including computer monitors. The company has asked Apple to pay for a trademark transfer in exchange for compensation, but the two parties have so far failed to reach a consensus on the monetary amount. In the meantime, Proview has sued Apple resellers in China, in an attempt to block the sale of the Apple iPad. In October, it also sued Apple for 10 billion yuan, or around 1.5 billion U.S. dollars, over the alleged trademark infringement.
Xie said: “Apple bought the iPad trademark from a British company for 10 pounds. And the British company had previously bought it from Proview Taipei. We think Apple failed to conduct proper due diligence, it wasn’t necessarily on purpose."
Despite the legal tussle, a spokesperson for Proview says the company is open to a settlement, and hopes this latest court judgment makes that process easier. In the meantime, the U.S. tech giant can still appeal the decision.