iPad trademark dispute sees progress

Updated: 2012-05-07 14:52


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GUANGZHOU - Pragmatic progress has been made in the dispute between Proview Technology (Shenzhen) and Apple Inc over use of the iPad trademark, according to an attorney for Proview (Shenzhen).

"We feel that the attitude of Apple Inc has changed. Although they expressed that they were willing to negotiate, they have never taken any action before. But now, they are having conversations with us, and we have begun to consult on the case," said Xie Xianghui in an interview with Xinhua on Sunday.

At a news conference in late April, Fu Shuangjian, deputy director general of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, said that, in accordance with the Chinese Trademark Law, Proview (Shenzhen) still reserves the right to use the iPad trademark in China.

Xie said the two sides have discussed a compensation package, and Apple Inc has tabled an amount it thinks appropriate. But the Proview side has not agreed on a deal, and Xie would not disclose the amount of money offered by Apple Inc.

Proview, a Shenzhen-based maker of computer screens and LED lights, has been suing Apple in court over rights to use the iPad trademark commonly associated with the California-based technology giant's popular tablet computer.

Proview claims that the Taipei subsidiary of its Hong Kong-based parent, Proview International Holdings Ltd, registered the iPad trademark in a number of countries and regions as early as 2000.

Though Apple brought the rights to use the iPad trademark from Proview Taipei in 2009, Proview (Shenzhen) says it reserves the right to use the trademark it registered on the Chinese mainland in 2001. Proview (Shenzhen) claims that it is a different entity from its Taipei brother and thus is not bound by the deal between Proview Taipei and Apple.

Apple, however, insists the 2009 purchase of the iPad trademark worldwide includes the right to use it in the Chinese mainland.

Although the dispute between the two sides is fierce, Apple's products sell like hot cakes in China. Last year, China contributed 16 percent of Apples's revenues during its fiscal quarter ending September, growing almost three times from a year earlier.

Apple unveiled its latest iPad in the United States on March 8, but it has not started selling it on the Chinese mainland market. It remains unclear whether the trademark dispute will further postpone the sale of Apple's latest tablet computer with the "iPad" name in China.

Some Apple fans have purchased new iPads from Hong Kong or abroad, even through smugglers.

"It's good for both sides to reach a settlement as soon as possible," said Xie.

The possibility that Proview will win the lawsuit is very high, but it may take years to get the compensation, said Li Xiaoning, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property rights cases.

Proview stumbled in the 2008 global financial crisis and applied for bankruptcy protection in 2009 as it owed more than $400 million to eight Chinese banks, according to media reports.