Apple vs. Proview: High court hears Apple appeal over iPad trademark

Apple vs. Proview: High court hears Apple appeal over iPad trademark

Summary: A High Court in Shenzen heard Apple's latest appeal in the ongoing trademark battle with Proview today. Apple's lawyers have claimed that siding with Proview will "confuse customers and hurt their interests."

TOPICS: Apple, iPad, Mobility

The Higher People's Court of Guangzhou heard the latest appeal from Apple over its right to the iPad trademark today.

Lawyers for Apple argued that "in the eyes of the consumer, iPad is associated with Apple. If the court decides that Proview wins the case, then this will confuse customers and hurt their interests."

The verdict is not expected for another few weeks, but the ruling of the court is crucial to bringing an end to the legal dispute that began in 2009. Another trademark infringement case in Shanghai halted proceedings pending the verdict of this appeal, and it also stands to effect future rulings across China.

If the court were to side with Apple over the appeal, then the other cases leveled against the company could be turned around. However, should the court maintain its original ruling in Proview's favour, Apple may be forced to settle or re-title the iPad for sale in China.

Considering the argument given today over customer association of the brand, it seems unlikely that Apple would be willing to change the product's iconic name in such a big market.

The Shenzen court originally sided with Proview over the ownership of the trademark in 2010. Apple's appeal is one of its best chances to win the trademark battle on the Chinese mainland.

The issue still focuses around the rights to the trademark within China. Apple bought the global trademark from Proview's Taiwan arm, which Proview (Shenzen) claims did not include the rights to China.

As the court is hearing this appeal, Proview is also taking the fight to Apple's home turf. Last week it filed a case in a California court accusing Apple of fraud.

The new lawsuit claims that Apple committed fraud when it purchased the iPad rights from a UK based subsidiary company called IP Application Development.

The allegations made by Proview were revealed in a press release on Monday. It detailed a series of alleged fraudulent actions made by the company to convince Proview to sell the trademark.

Apple's lawyers have also made it clear that they reserve the rights to take further legal action against Proview for defamation. It looks like this legal back and forth is far from over.


Topics: Apple, iPad, Mobility

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  • So

    Really... ???in the eyes of the consumer, iPad is associated with Apple. If the court decides that Proview wins the case, then this will confuse customers and hurt their interests.??? So Apple should just get the "iPad" name from Proview cause it is in the best interest of the consumer. Trademark law is in place to protect the business not the consumer. Apple shouldn't be able to steamroll over another company's property just cause they are Apple. Dip into that cash reserve and pay these people and be done with it.
    • What?

      If Apple caves then I'll find some bullcrap reason to sue them next week, as will every other opportunist out there. Proview sold the *world wide rights* to the name to another company who then sold those rights to Apple. I am curious to know what part of "world wide" actually means "everywhere but China".
    • This was a stupid argument

      This is one of many arguments that Apple lawyers put forward and I would say the least strong. The real argument is that Proview sold the name through its Taiwanese subsidiary and now wants more money for something they no longer own.
      Regardless it is plausible that the court will stall giving both Apple and Proview time to settle because I doubt the Chinese courts want to have this going on and on. For example, Privew will sue to stop exports so Apple will rename it in China (or possibly no name at all...the Apple logo is enough...just put a 3 on it for iPad 3) and in the meantime Apple will ask Foxconn to tool up outside of China (most likely Brazil) to produce the iPad to avoid export limitations. This will peeve local Chinese politicians who will lose work for their local labourers and set a trend in place for more Apple products to be built elsewhere and possibly start a trend for other companies to follow suit once the capital infrastructure is built elsewhere.
  • Add to this

    The lawsuit Proview files in California courts.
    The tidbit about the deceptive Apple practice to convince the sale was eye opening.

    If I was Proview, I would allow Apple to license the name and pay me a royalty for each instance of use.
    • ????

      There is nothing illegal about procuring property through business created solely for that reason. It happns all the time and you ran a multi-billion dollar multi-national and you really wanted some unique property such as some Intelelctual Property or a piece of land, etc then you would do the same or get fired.
      Its no different than if you were rich and well known (say Warren Buffest) and you wanted to buy a piece of art from someone (say a Warhold) you could either make the offer through a proxy (say a firend) or you could go direct and pay 10 times higher.
      What Proview are arguing is that IP Application Development didn't disclose everything about their relationship with Apple....well guess what...they don't have to. Proview argue that they would not have sold to Apple but this is a stupid argument because lets say they sold it to Ben and Jerry's Icecream...Ben and Jerry can then sell it to Apple cannot restrict what Ben and Jerry's does with the trademark as a condition of sale so to say they didn't want Apple to get the trademark is not only is completly infeasible to prevent once you sell it.

        You are totally correct regarding the legality of a company???s setting up shell corporations or using other third parties in order to shield their identity and thereby reduce the sell price on a given commodity. I could not agree more about the complete illegitimacy of Proview???s case. However, there are two things to keep in mind about this or any civil litigation in China. First of all, the Chinese legal system-- particularly the Civil court system-- is one of the most corrupt and politicized in the world. The court room floor there is littered with the corporate bodies of American companies that thought the system there was fair and found themselves enmeshed in what passes for civil litigation in China. Secondly, If you look at Proview???s bankruptcy filing you will discover that three of their principal creditors are several Chinese banks one of which is the vaunted and powerful Bank of China---by far the largest bank in the country and-- more importantly--- in effect a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chinese government. Guess who takes a bath and gets none of their money back if Apple chooses not to settle and prevails in court? Guess who has a vested interest in that not happening? Think about it.
  • MadTV should sue Apple...

    for stealing the name in the first place. What a great sketch that was. Youtube it!
  • one way or another

    One way or another, ProView owned or still owns the trademark for the name iPad. Maybe even if a 3rd party company bought the rights for the iPad name, it wasn't theirs to sell it. Patents can work that way. Also maybe Apple never paid enough for that name. Either way, Apple can afford to pay up. Knowing them, they probably tried to get it for next to nothing.
    • Trademark!=patent

      Apples and oranges.
      John L. Ries
    • How do you figure that?

      [b]One way or another, ProView owned or still owns the trademark for the name iPad.[/b]

      How? If Apple did buy it then Proview no longer owns any rights to the patent. They SOLD it. It is Apple's trademark to use as they will without any sort of input from Proview.[b]

      Maybe even if a 3rd party company bought the rights for the iPad name, it wasn't theirs to sell it.[/b]

      If a 3rd party bought the trademark then it is the [i]3rd party's[/i] trademark to do with as they will - including selling it to Apple - unless there is some sort of language prohibiting it in the sale to the 3rd party.[b]

      Patents can work that way.[/b]

      As John L. Ries pointed out a Patent/=Trademark. They are 2 completely different things. [b]

      Also maybe Apple never paid enough for that name.[/b]

      IF that was the case then the sale would not have gone through and Apple would have very likely paid more.[b]

      Either way, Apple can afford to pay up.[/b]

      This is not the point. This may be Proview's point however - maybe they feel like the undersold the trademark and are desperate to get more money to infuse into their declining business. They ARE going bankrupt.[b]

      Knowing them, they probably tried to get it for next to nothing.[/b]

      You say that like it's a bad thing. Think about it - if you were making a purchase where there is no fixed price would you not try to talk it down? Would not try to - in your own words - [i]get it for next to nothing[/i]?

      I've seen some documents that seem to indicate that a 3rd party did indeed purchase the iPad trademark from Proview... the link is in an article here on ZDNet that deals with this issue... I cannot say for sure if they are the real deal or fakes. IF Apple did indeed purchase the trademark from a 3rd party who did indeed purchase it from Proview then Proview does not have a leg to stand on. IF Apple did not make the purchase then Apple should negotiate a licensing settlement for the name or come up with another name for the iPads sold in China.
  • Interesting.

    In effect they are saying they stole it from this company and should now be allowed to keep it.

    Well, this confirms why I will not purchase iAnything. MS steals like a bandit, but at least they let you know they are doing it. I hope Apple gets it just desserts.

    It won't matter in a few years of course. With Jobs gone the company will sink like before and no one will be able to save it this time around.

    So much for drinking that Apple coolaid!
    • No, that's not what they're saying at all.

      But since you're merely convincing yourself of your own pre-concieved notions, it really doesn't matter what you think.
  • Fraud

    The two Chinese companies have the same officers, with the same titles, performing the same functions, and yet one signature has significance and its duplicate does not. In this country that would be called fraud.