iPhone News Desk
Can a Bankrupt Chinese Company Stop the iPad?
Apple is appealing a decision made by a court in a place called Shenzhen that said Apple doesn’t own the name
By: Maureen O'Gara
Feb. 28, 2012 07:45 AM
Proview, the bankrupt Taiwan-Mainland China display house that apparently - through slight of hand - rooked Apple out of the rights to the iPad trademark in China - is supposedly making settlement noises after a Shanghai court refused to stop iPad sales in the city pending a decision by still another, higher court in another province that won't hear Apple's case until next week. Meanwhile Proview reportedly means to appeal.
Apple, which has three stores in Shanghai, is itself appealing a decision made by a court in a place called Shenzhen that said Apple doesn't own the name.
Proview has taken advantage of that initial Shenzhen decision to get iPads in the channel confiscated in some Chinese cities.
Facing delisting from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange where it went public years ago, Proview is in hock to a bunch of big Chinese banks - a situation that started to become clear with a decision last year by a Hong Kong court, whose writ doesn't run into Mainland China. The banks need Proview to settle to recoup. It's the banks that supposedly control the trademark at this point, although Apple disputes that point.
Apple bought global rights to the name from Proview's Taiwan arm in 2009, a month before the iPad was announced, through a British intermediary for the princely sum of $55,000. The Taiwan company represented that it owned the IP and put it in writing, according to the Hong Kong court. Proview Shenzhen, its Mainland operation, later came back and said it had retained the rights in China, although now it's saying the banks controlled the trademark all along. Apple says Proview simply refuses to transfer the name.
The Hong Kong court said that Proview was trying to hold Apple up for $10 million, a number that has since reportedly escalated up around $2 billion. If Apple doesn't win its February 29 appeal, it could be looking at endless suits for damages, a US trademark infringement suit, a nationwide ban on iPads in China, a Chinese export freeze and an international incident that could start in China considering how iPad-crazed the Chinese are.
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