Did Tim Cook pay $60M iPad settlement out of own pocket?

Summary:Proview Technology’s CEO and legal advisor suggest Tim Cook dugout from his own pocket to pay the US$60 million compensation in China's iPad trademark lawsuit--almost the same amount in dividends the Apple CEO had earlier turned down.

Pointing out that Apple CEO Tim Cook in May refused his US$75 million dividends from over 1 million shares, Proview's founder and chairman Yang Rongshan--who fought with Apple for the iPad trademark in China and was awarded US$60 million by the court--said people around him realized the amount was "very close with the compensation Apple would pay for Proview".

Ray Mai, who served in the legal department for Proview's Taiwan arm, held the same view. Speaking to IT Times, a mainland-based technology newspaper, Mai said the trademark dispute was distinguishable from other infringement cases as someone in Apple who had made a mistake, and the consequences of which should not be passed to the shareholders.  

"Since Steve Jobs was gone, Cook should take up the responsibility," said Mai.

Proview had accused Apple of acquiring its rights to the iPad name in a deceptive way. Apple set up a UK-registered company, IP Application Development Ltd (IPADL), and bought the naming rights from Proview's Taiwanese affiliate in 2009 for merely US$55,000.

IPADL's agents intentionally misrepresented the reason to purchase the trademark as they told Proview "iPad" was an abbreviation for the company name. They also said the company would not use the trademark to compete with Proview. Record showed Apple launched the iPad only a month after the deal sealed.

Mai was a key person in the trademark transaction.

The IT Times report said Mai's words revealed employees from Apple did make some serious low-level mistakes during the transaction. However, he refused to give out more details.

Apple lost a lawsuit against Proview in December 2011 when it said it was the legitimate owner of the iPad trademark in China.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in late-May 2012, Apple indicated Cook asked his restricted stock units not receive dividends amounting to around US$75 million.

A Chinese higher court announced last month Apple paid US$60 million to Proview and settled the case through mediation in China.

Yang, who is also Proview's CEO, said the company had never asked for compensation of US$3 billion or US$400 million as previously reported.  He said Apple played tough in the lawsuit and was ready to wait for one or two more years if Proview demanded a higher compensation.

Topics: iPad, Apple, China, Legal

About

Cyrus Lee, writing under a pen name, is a Hong Kong-based reporter in an English-language newspaper and a correspondent for a radio station.

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