Apple seeks settlement to end Proview 'iPad' trademark dispute

Apple seeks settlement to end Proview 'iPad' trademark dispute

Summary: Apple is reportedly pushing for a settlement in the "IPAD" trademark dispute with China-based Proview, according to a China government newswire.


Two weeks after a Chinese court proposed a settlement between Apple and Proview over a disputed trademark, a Chinese government newswire report suggests Apple is pushing for its own settlement in a bid to close the complaint.

Proview lawyer Xie Xianghui told China's government newswire: "We feel that the attitude of Apple Inc. has changed. Although they expressed that they were willing to negotiate, they have never taken any action before."

"But now, they are having conversations with us, and we have begun to consult on the case," he added.

The wire report claims Apple had offered a settlement figure to end the litigation, though Proview did not disclose the amount and is not yet agreeing on a deal.

This comes only a few weeks since the Guangdong High Court in southern China pushed for the two companies to settle the ongoing dispute. A Proview lawyer said at the time it "expects" the company to reach a settlement with Apple.

Proview sued Apple for $1.6 billion over its use of the "IPAD" trademark, claiming it had registered the stamp in a number of countries including China as early as 2000. Apple claims it was sold the trademark for $55,104 years earlier and had rights to the "IPAD" name in 10 different countries, including China.

Proview disputes the claims and says the trademark was not included in the deal, reserving the "IPAD" name for its own in mainland China.

The Shenzen-based company, which makes LCD and computer screens, suffered in the past few years to deal with its 400 million yuan ($64 million) debt. Proview filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.

Apple threatened to sue Proview for defamation over the trademark claims. A letter to Proview's chief executive Yang Rongshan said that Apple's lawyers may pursue a case based on "unlawful actions intended to wrongfully interfere with Apple’s business and business relationships."

But Proview brought the trademark dispute to Apple's front door by submitting a complaint to a California court.

Apple was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

However, if Apple decides to settle it would force the company to change the name of the iPad in China. It would be a clean resolution, but the company would also take a hit for admitting its fault in the dispute.

Considering how far Apple is willing to go in a bid to protect the worldwide rights to the names of its products --- particularly in the case of the latest iPad and the company's bid to define '3G' as '4G' to circumvent legal challenges --- it seems unlikely the tablet maker will settle.

But as ZDNet's Hana Stewart-Smith explained, China's protectionism towards trademarks, patents and other intellectual property "is deliberately designed to favour Chinese based companies," leaving Apple potentially fighting a no-win battle. "This has resulted in Chinese versions of Western brands being protected by patent law, such as Weibo in place of Twitter, and Baidu in place of Google,” she said.

If Apple settles in China, there is no guarantee that it would not have a knock-on effect in the case in Santa Clara County court.

Image credit: Apple.


Topics: Legal, Apple, Enterprise Software, iPad, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Seven Ways Apple Is Fleecing The American Sheeple

    Seven Ways Apple Is Fleecing The American Sheeple:
    • Thank you for the link

      That was very informative.
    • Reread that list

      and you'll see that a great many companies do the same thing. And not only in the tech industry. And no, I'm NOT giving Apple a pass on anything on that list but let's look at the list here: so one has this link handy.

      [b]1. Sending jobs overseas.[/b] Dell which is a US-based tech company that sells Windows and Linux based PCs also have products made in Foxconn factories. As does HP another US-based tech company that sells Windows based PCs. [b]

      2. Slashing domestic wages.[/b] Again Apple is not the only company or organization that does this - Banks across the country are in the process of outsourcin and rehiring the affected employees as contractors at a reduced rate of pay. And in the auto manufacturing business and newly hired UAW workers are being payed a wage of $14/hr while those "grandfathered in" are making around $29/hr.[b]

      3. Selling iProducts with built-in obsolescence.[/b] Can you tell me which model of Android phone that originally ran Android 2.1 has been updated to run ICS? Anyone? In contrast an iPhone 3GS which was released around the same time as the bulk of the Android 2.1 devices is capable of running the latest version of iOS. I'll grant that all of the features of iOS 5.1 are not available to the 3GS or even 4 such as Siri but one does not have to root an iPhone to run the latest iOS. As for planned or built in obsolescence again Apple is not the only one.[b]

      4. Avoiding corporate income taxes.[/b] This is a particularly nasty practice that many US-based companies do. Apple is not the only one.[b]

      5. Locking in vendors and customers.[/b] This is an issue that applies to ALL platforms and devices. If I go from iOS to Android or from Android to WP7 I lose the money I spent in apps for the platform I'm leaving, I cannot use the same accessories which essentially locks me in to a certain platform be it iOS, Android, or WP7.[b]

      6. Obstructing Open Web development.[/b] Even this article acknowledges that this is not an Apple only issue but an Apple and Google issue...[b]

      7. Exploiting and accelerating technological dehumanization.[/b] Again the article takes a shot at Apple but in reality it is ALL companies that do this - that go into business to make money.

      Hey ironboltbruce do you have anything more recent than a year ago and something that is less biased? That piece you linked to is quite rabidly anti-Apple and highlights the issues with Apple while ignoring the same issues with other companies.
      • While you are correct, think about it for a second

        When you are top dog, everything you do is scrutinized far more closely. Also, everything you do that's "wrong" affects the world far more than when some little no name company does something "wrong". When MS was top dog, every single thing they did wrong was all Microsoft's fault, even though everyone in the industry was doing it. If you don't believe me, how much do you pay for Safari or Konqueror? What? Those are free? And they come with the OS? Horrors.

        When you are top dog, you can't get away with the same stuff that everyone else gets away from. I didn't write these rules. They aren't even necessarily fair. But that's the way it is.

        I'll give you an example from the list above. 4) Avoiding corporate income taxes. When Apple does it, that is billions of dollars. When Red Hat does it, it is about $10.32. So yes, while you are right that "everyone" does it, we are harmed far more when Apple does it. So yes, we are far more concerned when Apple does it.
    • Myopic logic...

      So Apple, which accounts for less than 1% of manufacturing outsourced to the far east, is responsible for the majority of the USA's woes?
      Not only flawed, myopic logic but an indictment of intelligent discourse in the hands of the stupid.
      Well done.
  • The fact that some a$$hole flagged ironboltbruce

    says tons about the apple community. iTurds all.
    • Yet when someone...

      In the Microsoft community flags posts, that are fact based, no one whines about it.
      Jumpin Jack Flash
  • Apple is scared, they know they are in the wrong

    Do the right thing Apple, admit you are wrong, pay up, and choose a different name.
    • Really?

      Or is Apple simply tired of the whole thing including potentially fighting a battle that is stacked against ANY non-Chinese based company?
  • Proview case an open and shut case

    I think that Apple, shouldn't deal with Proview, they need to counter sue, if Apple recieved rights years ago, then it's an open and shut case. All Proview wants is to get out of debt, and they think suing Apple will do it.

    Joe Guiliani

    Editor in chief an Chief Writer for
  • Remember who's holding the cards

    If Chinese government is not on Apple's side, Proview could get the ban on exports that they are seeking. If that happened, iPad sales would grind to halt because there would be a world-wide massive shortage of iPads. This is because Apple makes all their products in China. So, if is a wise move for Apple to settle the case and avoid any worse problems, considering that this case is on foreign soil.