Apple has already collected a small back catalogue of patent lawsuits over the last few years. Some it has handled successfully and some less so, like their ongoing battle with Proview over the 'iPad' trademark.
Proview Technology is suing Apple over the rights to the 'iPad' brand within China's borders, seeking around $38 million for "damages" and, perhaps most unusually, an apology from Apple.
Apple and Proview have been engaged in a lengthy legal back and forth over the 'iPad' trademark for years.
Proview International Holdings, of which the Shenzen branch is a subsidiary, registered the 'iPad' trademark in Taiwan way back in 2001. The trademark was then sold on to IP Application Development back in 2006 for $55,000. Apple then got the rights from them in 2010, but as IP Application Development's ties to Apple came to light, Proview took action against the company.
Proview began suing them for copyright infringement in 2010 for $1.6 billion, and when Apple counter-sued the company last year, it lost the case.
According to Proview lawyer Xie Xianghui, Apple had only bought the rights to use the trademark in Taiwan previously, so the Shenzen company does not recognise their right to sell their products under the 'iPad' name.
Proview Shenzen's chairman, Yang Rongshan, stated in 2010 that: "It is arrogant of Apple to just ignore our rights and go ahead selling the iPad in this market," but he also admitted that a motivator was the companies financial state. "We are in big financial trouble and the trademarks are a valuable asset."
Apple is still appealing Proview's first lawsuit over copyright infringement. But after failing to counter-sue the company and facing yet another court battle over the trademark, it is starting to look like this battle is one that Apple can't easily win.
Although it has been argued before that China's patent law is biased -- of course, towards Chinese companies -- that may be an obstacle Apple can't overcome. But the Cupertino giant can at least take some solace over the success the iPhone 4S has seen so far in the region.
Image source: CNET.