Apple iPad Will Say Goodbye to Chinese Market Over Trademark Infringement?

on February 08 2012 8:10 AM
Apple is reportedly "weeks away" from debuting the iPad 3, although the device's actual release date will come about a month later, in early March 2012.
Fake iPads made of clay were sold to as many as 10 people in Vancouver, Canada Courtesy/Wikipedia.org

Apple is facing a huge challenge from a Chinese company, which has demanded as much as $38 million in fines and an apology, as the tech giant has allegedly infringed upon its trademarked name.

If Apple refuses the oppressive requests, iPad might vanish from the Chinese market, one of the biggest markets for the California-based company. It (China)'s our fastest growing major region by far, Cook said.

It means the iPad, especially the yet-to-be-released iPad 3, will be barred from sale in China.

The legal dispute between Proview International and Apple started in 2011. Proview International has two subsidiary companies - Proview Technology in Shenzhen and Proview Electronics in Taiwan. And both of them registered the trademark iPad- the Taiwan subsidiary did it in 2000, whereas the mainland Chinese one did it in 2001.

Through IP Application Development, Apple had bought the Chinese iPad name for $55,000 in 2009. However, Proview later said that the deal only applied to the trademark in Taiwan.

Without Proview Technology's permission, Apple has sold its tablets in China, which triggered a strong reaction from the Shenzhen company.

It is arrogant of Apple to just ignore our rights and go ahead selling the iPad in this market, and we will oppose that, Proview chairman Yang Rongshan said. Besides that, we are in big financial trouble and the trademarks are a valuable asset that could help us sort out part of that trouble.

Yang had threatened to sue Apple in October 2010 for damages in China and in the U.S, although the tech giant claimed that it is Apple that is the rightful owner of the iPad trademark. However, Apple had lost the lawsuit.

And now, Proview Technology had filed for a temporary restraining order in a Shanghai court Monday, asking the court to stop Apple from selling and marketing the iPad in China.

We have to admit that Apple's iPad is a great product, and Apple creates great value out of that, Yang told the Wall Street Journal. But this is not the reason to support their irregular practice here.

The laws are still there, and they sell their products in defiance of laws. The more products they sell, the more they need to compensate. a Proview representative said.

According to Proview's lawyer Ma Dongxiao, the decision from the court is supposed to come out in 48 hours, but in common practice it usually takes longer. So now I have no idea when we could hear from the court.

We have prepared well for a long-term legal battle, Proview's another lawyer Xiao Caiyuan said. Apple is such a Goliath and has a good image, so people wouldn't imagine that Apple could possibly infringe on our intellectual property rights, Xiao added.

I understand even lots of Chinese people think our company is playing dirty here or trying to blackmail Apple, Yang said. But we are doing everything completely under the laws and rules, if people understand the whole process of this matter. There has been so much misunderstanding about us, but we would continue to sue until we win what we deserve.

Apple has remained tight-lipped so far, declining to give any comment about the case.

What do you think? Will Apple to forced to pay fines to Proview? Or will Apple win the lawsuit? Leave your comments below.

More News from IBT MEDIA