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Proview, Apple Battle Over “IPAD” Rages On

Friday May 11, 2012 at 1:22pm
One of the most recent cases in registered trademark disputes has proven that not even one of the biggest technology producers in the world, Apple, is immune to legal stand-offs and botched branding.

The bankrupt Chinese firm Proview has been battling Apple over their use of the registered trademark IPAD in China, which it says Apple bought illegally from a Proview affiliate that had no right to sell the trademark. Apple purchased the IPAD name from Proview Taiwan in 2009 for the meagre sum of just £35,000, in a move that they thought would give them absolute rights to use the IPAD trademark in China. However, Proview is claiming that only its Shenzhen branch had the right to tell their trademark, and has started a legal battle over the issue.

Move to settle

Proview, a firm owned by Xie Xianghui that once sold monitor and LED lighting equipment, won its first battle in court last December, despite Apple’s giant international presence and formidable legal team. The case has now gone into an appeal hearing, with Apple vying to have the decision reversed. However, both parties have reportedly been urged to settle out of court.

The possibility for an out-of-court settlement would spell a small victory for Proview, if indeed Apple was illegally using the trademarked IPAD name in China. China Daily and other news sources have said that the two firms are actively seeking middle ground in terms of how much needs to be paid to end this dispute.

Xie is quoted as saying that there is “still a big gap between the two sides on the settlement amount,” which means that while the issue may be settled, it is not closed.

It all goes to show just how valuable a simple trademark registration can be.

New battle on the horizon

Apple is responding to sales pressures by looking for a settlement, as it wants to start selling its latest touch-technology in lucrative Chinese markets as soon as possible. However, legal experts say that Apple is wary of inviting other legal battles from international firms just by seeming to give in too easily.

It may be particularly difficult for Apple to settle amicably with Proview now that they have started a legal dispute in Apple’s home country. They recently filed a lawsuit in the US which alleges that Apple hid its participation in the purchase of the IPAD trademark in China by going through a UK intermediary firm.

The moral of the story is that it is not enough to acquire a registered trademark, you need also to make sure that the trademark registration is assigned to you by a person who has the legal ownership of the trademark and the legal right to transfer it….but then again, you would have thought that all of this would have occurred to Apple’s trademark lawyer at the time.
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