Apple versus Proview: Who Will Have the Last Laugh?

   on February 16 2012 7:54 AM
Proview Technology has filed a lawsuit against Apple, saying that the California company has committed fraud and unfair competition.  The China-based technology company accused Apple of misrepresenting itself when securing the iPad trademark, according to
Proview Technology has filed a lawsuit against Apple, saying that the California company has committed fraud and unfair competition. The China-based technology company accused Apple of misrepresenting itself when securing the iPad trademark, according to The Washington Post. Reuters

The legal dispute between Apple and Proview is becoming increasingly fierce and the whole world, including Apple fans, Apple's rivals, industry analysts, tech and law experts, are wondering who will have the last laugh.

The dispute between the two companies began last year. Proview Technology in Shenzhen is a subsidiary of Hong King-based Proview International, which also has another subsidiary in Taiwan called Proview Electronics.

Both the subsidiary companies had registered the trademark iPad- the Taiwanese company did it in 2000, whereas the Mainland Chinese one did it in 2001.

Before Apple released the iPad in 2010, the tech giant had bought the trademark right of the name iPad for $55,000 in 2009 through IP Application Development from Proview Electronics. The tech giant thought it had got the trademark rights in ten countries, including China.

However, Proview Technology in Shenzhen later insisted that the deal between Apple and Proview Electronics excluded the trademark rights in Mainland China and Proview Technology still had ownership over the rights.

Apple sued Proview in 2010, saying it owned the trademark rights of the name iPad in Mainland China but a court in Shenzhen ruled in December 2011 that Apple had incorrectly purchased the iPad trademark from the Taiwan-based subsidiary.

The tech giant had appealed the ruling in a Guangdong provincial court in January. Meanwhile, Proview Technology had filed for a temporary restraining order in a Shanghai court recently, asking the court to stop Apple from selling and marketing the iPad in China. Moreover, Proview had filed a series of trademark violation complaints across China with local Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureaus.

As a result, the departments began confiscating iPads from sellers and wants Apple to pay fines up to five times the profit it made from iPad sales in 20 cities across four provinces, according to various Chinese reports. Online retailers such as Amazon China and Suning.com have also pulled out the iPad from their sites, the Asia Tech News For the World reported.

Furthermore, Proview plans to ask China's customs authorities to ban the export and import of the new iPad 3 which reportedly will be unveiled in early March.

China has become Apple's second largest market, ranking only second to the U. S. and no doubt, the ban on the iPad will be catastrophic for the tech giant.

However, Proview also acknowledged that it's hard to implement a ban. The customs have told us that it will be difficult to implement a ban because many Chinese consumers love Apple products. The sheer size of the market is very big, Yang Long-san, chief of Proview Technology told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

If Apple wants to solve the dilemma, the company has two choices - pay the penalty for the alleged trademark infringement or change the name of the tablet from iPad to something else.

The debt-laden Proview is reportedly seeking $1.6 billion in compensation from Apple. Moreover, Proview Shenzhen's lawyer Xie Xianghui said a court in the Xicheng district of Beijing was ready to slap Apple with a 240 million yuan ($38 million) fine, but the ruling has been delayed because of Apple's appeal, according to the Global Times.

However, many people think Proview shouldn't ask for so much compensation. According to Reuters, Proview is a company nearly bankrupt and when its correspondents visited the company in Shenzhen, they found that the building has largely been abandoned, with its windows shattered and debris strewn liberally.

Moreover, if Apple refuses to pay the compensation and decides to pull out iPad from the Chinese market, Proview won't get to benefit so much from owning the iPad name. In fact, Proview's Yang also acknowledged, there was currently a gap in expectations on both sides, but he declined to say whether it referred to the amount of compensation.

Meanwhile, it's difficult for Apple to change name of its tablet. According to Sohu, other possible names for the Apple tablet, including Apad Bpad Cpad Dpad Epad FPad Gpad Hpad Ipad Jpad Kpad Lpad Mpad Npad Opad Ppad Qpad Rpad Spad Tpad Upad Vpad Wpad Xpad Ypad Zpad and more, have been registered already.

What name do you think Apple should give its tablet in case it decides to rechristen it? Leave your comments below.

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