Finally! The longstanding Chinese ‘iPad’ trademark dispute comes to an end! Apple and Chinese firm Proview Technology have reached a settlement deal that involves Apple paying $60 million (about 380 million Chinese yuan) for the rights to the “iPad” trademark that was registered by Proview 12 years ago in mainland China.
According to Mr Xie, a lawyer from Shenzhen Grandall Law Firm, which represented Proview, Apple had settled a lawsuit at Guangdong High People’s Court by agreeing to pay $60 million for the legal rights to use the iPad trademark in China. Here’s what Mr Xie said in a statement,
“It was done last week and it was confirmed with a ruling by the higher court,”
The ruling was issued on Monday morning, and according to Ma Dongxiao, another lawyer from the Shenzhen Grandall Law Firm, both Apple and Proview are satisfied with the agreement.
“The case is settled, both sides are satisfied with the agreement,”
However, Proview’s CEO doesn’t seem completely satisfied with the settlement deal. In an interview with the local newspaper media, Proview CEO Yang Rongshan said,
“The settlement amount is not especially large, but it is O.K.”
Well, Proview originally wanted $400 million from Apple, and you may ask, why is this Chinese company asking for so much money? One reason. Before Proview filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, the company was said to have owed more than US$400 million to a total of eight Chinese banks. Anyway, Apple is now paying $60 million settlement fee to Proview, and once the money is transferred, the settlement will officially end the court battles between the two companies. Then, it should take only a week or two for China’s national trademark authority to transfer the iPad trademark for China to Apple, according to Mr Xie — the Chinese lawyer representing Proview.
Flashback: What Happened Between Apple and Proview
It’s a war over the right to use the iPad name in China. In 2000, Proview registered the ‘iPad’ trademark in a number of countries and region including Chinese mainland as early as 2000, 10 years before Apple launched its iPad tablet.
So what was Proview planning to do with the iPad trademark in 2000? Well, the Chinese company was originally planning to introduce electronics such as computer, computer accessories, LCD display, TV set, radio, digital camera, webcam, and security equipment under the brand “IPAD”. However, the company unsuccessfully tried to market the brand IPAD.
In 2006, Proview agreed to sell the global iPad trademark to US-based IP Application Development for £35,000 ($55,104), at which time Proview didn’t know had connections to Apple. Here’s the “loophole”, the Chinese trademarks, filed as far back as 2000, were apparently not included in that agreement. This means that Proview could still use the trademark rights in China.
In 2009, Apple purchased the European rights to the iPad name from Proview’s global parent for about $55,000 and then filed an infringement lawsuit against Proview’s Shenzhen subsidiary when Apple found out Proview is still the owner of the trademark in China. Apple was claiming the European deal also included China. However, Proview did not surrender, the company even “threatened” to sue Apple over trademark infringement, valuing the trademark at $800 million. Apple argued that its $55,000 purchase of the European trademark from Proview included the Chinese rights. So, Proview and Apple have been duking it out legally ever since.
Things go nasty afterwards. A Chinese patent court in Shenzhen rejected Apple’s claim that Proview was infringing its iPad trademark with a product of its own. So, Apple’s lawsuit against Proview was denied, and Proview’s chairman promised to sue Apple for damages in both the US and China. The actions Proview have carried out included the order of pulling iPads from retail stores in mainland China, and “threatening” Chinese retailers against the selling of the new iPad.
Apple was seriously pissed by Proview’s actions, and they even tried to appeal to the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong Province with the risk of getting fined 2.4 billion Chinese yuan ($380 million U.S.) if they lose the lawsuit. What’s even worse is that Chinese authorities did not want Apple to win the iPad trademark… Anyway, Apple keep on working hard to reach a settlement with Proview until today.
Still feeling lost? Click here for the full coverage of the war between Apple and Proview.
Source: Sina Tech
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