Apple talks tough in China iPad dispute - Updated
A dispute between Apple and Chinese company Proview over the rights to the ‘iPad’ trademark in China is heating up, with the Cupertino, California-based giant accusing its rival of defamation and misrepresentation in the press.
The dispute concerns a purchase of the iPad trademark from Proview by Apple holding company, IP Applications Development Limited (IPADL), for £35,000. The trademark was held by Proview subsidiary, Proview Shenzhen; however, Proview has argued that Apple was dealing with another subsidiary, Proview Electronics Co, based in Taiwan.
In a letter to Proview chairman Rowell Yang (published by All Things Digital), Apple’s Chinese law firm King & Wood says Yang, as Proview’s controller as well as Proview Shenzhen’s chairman, ‘knew and actually authorised Proview Shenzhen’s negotiation and conclusion of the transfer agreement of the above trademark’.
"The statement that Proview Taiwan held itself out as the owner of all the iPad trademarks without the knowledge of Proview Shenzhen and the statement that IPADL ‘mistakenly dealt with’ the Proview Taiwan entity are inconsistent with the facts,” the letter reads.
"The evidence is also clear that you, Mr Yang, as chairman and/or legal representative of all of the Proview entities, including Proview Shenzhen, were aware of and specifically authorised Proview... to sell the two iPad trademarks registered in mainland China.
"It is inappropriate to release information contrary to the facts to the media, especially when such disclosures have the effect of wrongly causing damage to Apple’s reputation. You will be held legally responsible for such activity.”
An initial ruling on the case by a Shenzhen court went against Apple, but the company is appealing; meanwhile, Proview is working in district courts to ban local retailers from selling the device. More rulings are expected later this week.
Update: Reuters reports that a court in Shanghai has thrown out a request by supposed iPad trademark holder Proview to stop Apple from selling its tablets in the city.
Proview has already had a retail ban enforced in a smaller city; if the Shanghai decision had gone the same way, the ban would have included the three Apple stores located in the massive metropolis.
As it is, Apple can now concentrate on its appeal of the original decision made in a Shenzhen court, which stated that Proview still had rights to the trademark.