Apple faces iPad trademark battle in China

Proview, a Taiwanese-owned company which owns the trademark for “iPad” China says it will sue Apple for infringing on its ownership in that market, according a report in the Financial Times. Nearly a decade ago, PRoview tried unsuccessfully to market a tablet computer it called “I-Pad.”

Although the product failed, the company trademarked the name “IPAD” in the E.U., China, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam at different times between the years 2000 and 2004. FT notes that trademark databases validate Proview’s claim.

In 2006, Proview reportedly sold the global trademark (except, Proview said, in China) to a U.S. company named IP Application Development, for $55,100. It turns out, however, that IP Application Development was really just a front for Apple.

Now, Proview’s having some financial difficulties. In fact, a group of Chinese creditor banks has seized the assets of Proview’s Shenzhen unit, including the trademarks, after the company defaulted on loans worth $400 million.

Naturally, Proview’s shareholders and creditors would love to see the trademarks sold at the highest possible price, but Apple has blocked any attempts to do so via preliminary injunctions granted after Apple and IP Application Development sued Proview.

According to the FT, Apple is seeking an order requiring Proview to assign the Chinese IPAD trademark to IP Application Development, per the 2006 agreement. However, FT added, according to online trademark databases, while the ownership of the E.U. trademark for IPAD changed from Proview to Apple this year, two IPAD trademarks registered in China are still shown as belonging to Proview.

Interestingly, just prior to the launch of the iPad, Apple settled with the owner of the U.S. trademark: Fujitsu.

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