Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Proview Trademark Litigation with Apple Continues

The trademark dispute between Apple and the Chinese company, Proview Technologies, is intensifying.  If you remember, Proview secured the trademark for “iPad” in China back in 2000.  The chain of events is not clear, but the core of the dispute is whether Apple ever obtained a proper license or acquired the use of the iPad trademark in China from the correct owner.  Proview Officials in the Chinese province of Hebei seized Apple iPads from store shelves, as the battle over the iPad name in China continues to roll along.  Proview Technologies,  has continued to put road blocks in Apple’s way, filing complaints against Apple in over 20 Chinese cities, as Apple tries to market and sell its products in China.  The problem is  that the Chinese public are anxiously buying iPads or waiting to buy them.  In fact, apparently a riot almost broke out at the release of the iPhone 4S in Beijing.

Apple mistakenly thought they bought the rights in 2005 from Proview-Taiwan, but apparently Proview-Shenzhen still held the rights in China.  After Proview went bankrupt a few years back, they probably realized they were still holding a goldmine with this Apple trademark.  And now they want to cash in.  Apple has quit dealing with them formally, instead deciding to take them to court in China.  But it looks like China is siding with Proview for now.  At first, Apple was just barred from using the trademark in a few provinces, but now that ban has spread, and the latest development is that iPads are even being confiscated.  Store owners are jittery as local authorities have been making moves to ban or confiscate merchandise after the Proview complaint.

Initially, it looked as though Proview was a small company with a nuisance claim to the trademark, but as the situation has continued to escalate, it appears that their claim to the trademark rights is a lot more valid, at least to the Chinese government, than first suspected. Apple has continued to decline to comment throughout the ordeal.