I have written before about the challenges to international business operations and the difficulty in adjusting to differences in political, economic, and judicial structures between countries. Regulatory differences seem to be troubling tech companies the most in recent times, specifically regarding laws relating to privacy, piracy, antitrust regulation, and now trademark violations. Apple currently finds itself in the middle of a legal push by Proview International, a Chinese company, and its parent company to disrupt sales of the iPad. According to The New York Times, the parent company is a Taiwanese computer monitor manufacturer that contends its subsidiary in the Guangdong Province has the rights to the iPad name in mainland China. Thus, Proview and its parent company are working to block Apple's usage of the name, and by extension the selling of the iPad products where they feel they have the trademark rights.
On the other side, Apple claims its subsidiary attained from Proview the rights to the iPad name years ago but that Proview did not register the change in trademark ownership. The trademark dispute has been taken to court in several locations by Proview, most notably in Shanghai. Just this week the Shangai Pudong New Area People's court suspended the case stating they would not make a ruling because there is a similar pending case between the two parties in the Guangdong Province.
Apple welcomed this result, given the fact that Proview has successfully blocked iPad sales in several small cities in the country. Apple is looking to not lose any momentum on the sale of their entire range of products as they are growing in popularity throughout China. The filing of the case in Shanghai likely stood as measure to establish how much the company could disrupt iPad sales in one of the biggest markets.
This situation clearly illustrates how companies become more vulnerable when they operate in new locations. Companies open themselves up to such battles when they enter new territories both inside and out of their own countries, but especially internationally. According to The New York Times, Proview is facing bankruptcy and has indicated the company is trying to drive Apple to ultimately pay compensation. This is a lesson for companies in any industry expanding their operations, taking any steps possible to limit their risk of such circumstances and the litigation that follows.
During expansion, companies can benefit from expert consultants that can advise decision-makers on how to best navigate new regulatory and legal circumstances. In the online environment, SEO companies perform the same functions assisting businesses not with regulatory or legal advice but on how to get the most out of their web presence when expanding internationally. During this time of transition, there is much change including the target audience which will often require SEO based on language and cultural specifications. Transition across borders is not easy but can bring unprecedented opportunity and growth when you have the appropriate assistance along the way.