February 24, 2012
iPad Trademark Dispute Moves To Apple’s Home Turf
After a Chinese court ruled in favor of Apple in a trademark lawsuit brought by Proview, the company has now taken the dispute to Apple´s front door.
Proview International Holdings Ltd, a major computer monitor maker that has fallen on hard times, lost that case in a Chinese court and has now filed suit in California over the matter, reports Edwin Chan and Lee Chyen Yee of Reuters.Apple claimed that Proview violated the sales contract by failing to transfer the trademark rights in mainland China. It also claims that Proview has not marketed its own “IPAD” for several years, making its claim to the trademark invalid.
There is still a chance that both companies could reach an out-of-court settlement, which could benefit Proview since the company is on the fringe of bankruptcy. Proview said it will continue to pursue Apple for trademark infringement in other provincial courts.
“Right now, the most valuable asset of Proview Group is the iPad trademark registration in China,” Eugene Low, a trademark lawyer at Mayer Brown JSM in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg. “Assuming the creditors have control of the affairs of Proview Shenzhen, it might be in their best interest to get a settlement as quickly as possible to monetize the Proview assets.”
Proview founder Rowell Yang said that when Apple bought the trademark from Proview, the Shenzhen subsidiary was controlled by creditors. He said that Proview can´t make any agreements without the creditors.
Some legal experts say that Apple has more to gain by settling, primarily in keeping their products flowing into consumers hands. At stake for Apple are its sales and shipments in China, where its CEO Tim Cook said it was merely scratching the surface.
Debt-laden Proview International, meanwhile, needs to come up with a viable rescue plan before mid-2012 or else it faces delisting from the Hong Kong stock exchange.
“In relation to the US, Apple is going to somewhat have a homeground advantage,” said Elliot Papageorgiou, a Shanghai-based partner and executive at law firm Rouse Legal (China).
“Given the current timeline, Apple would have the greater impetus to come to settlement simply because the ability to disrupt shipments is more immediate than the pressure faced by Proview and its potential delisting,” concluded Papageorgiou.
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