So what’s new in Proview vs. Apple? If you remember from our earlier blogs, since late 2011 the two companies have engaged in a trademark dispute over the iPad name. Proview Technology, a now bankrupt Chinese manufacturer, registered the trademark “iPad” in 2001. Apple released the iPad in 2010 and states that it purchased the rights to the “iPad” trademark in 10 countries from Proview in 2009. Apple paid Proview around $55,000 for purchasing the trademark, but Proview later demanded $10 million for Apple’s use of the name “iPad” in China.
Proview says that it still retains the right to the trademark in China because when Apple purchased the trademark in 2009, it dealt with Proview Electronics (Proview’s Taiwanese affiliate) and not Proview Shenzhen (which it claims owns the Chinese trademark). Thus, Proview did not honor the agreement to transfer the trademark right to use in China. Until Apple paid up, Proview threatened to request custom officials to cease the import/export of Apple iPads into China. In February, a Chinese court ruled that Apple distributors should stop selling the iPad in China and authorities began removing the Apple iPad. A Shanghai court denied Proview a preliminary injunction and allowed continued sales of the iPad in Shanghai.
However, Apple claims that it was led to believe that Proview Electronics had the right to transfer trademark ownership of use in China. Additionally, prior to bankruptcy in 2010, Yang Rongshan served as the chairmen and chief executive officer for all Proview’s entities. A judge hearing the case in the High Court of Hong Kong sided with Apple (Proview appealed), but the Beijing National Copyright Administration recognized Proview as the rightful owner of the iPad trademark in China even after the 2009 transaction.
Earlier this year, Proview filed the case in a California Superior Court, but a judge dismissed the case. A spokesperson for Apple previously said that Apple feels that Proview is “unfairly trying to get more from Apple for a trademark we already paid for.” Now, the two companies are participating in out-of-court settlement talks. Earlier this month, Apple offered Proview a settlement (supposedly $16 million), which Proview said is too little.