Chinese Official Sides With Proview In Apple iPad Debate
April 24, 2012

Chinese Official Sides With Proview In Apple iPad Debate

Michael Harper for

Apple may end up losing the rights to the name of their popular tablet device in China. A top Chinese official has sided with Proview Technology in a case over the iPad trademark. Such a decision could mean Apple would lose the right to the iPad name in China, forcing them to give it another name.

Proview Technology, based in Shenzhen, has been locked in a legal battle with Apple over the rights to the name iPad since it was first released in 2010. Both companies claim they own the trademark.

“Currently, Shenzhen Proview is still the legitimate registered owner of the iPad trademark,” said Fu Shuangjian, deputy minister of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, according to the AFP news agency.

The Taiwanese affiliate of Proview Technology registered the trademark for the “iPad” name in several countries, including China, in 2000, 10 years before Apple began selling the product as their own.

Apple claims they legally purchased global rights to the trademark from Proview and their Taiwanese affiliate before they started selling the tablet. Proview, however, says the deal did not include the rights for mainland China.

Today, Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration told reporters in Beijing that the government considers Proview Technology to be the rightful owners of the iPad trademark. This decision could put pressure on Apple to come up with a solution to this legal standoff on their own, and soon.

During a news conference Yan said, “The dispute between Apple and Shenzhen Proview concerning the iPad trademark is going through the judicial process.”

He added, “According to our government´s laws, Shenzhen Proview is still the lawful representative and user of the trademark.”

Apple took Proview Technology to court last year for copyright infringement, but was unsuccessful as the courts ruled Apple did not have enough “facts or evidence” to support their claims.

Apple is appealing this court decision. In the meantime, Proview has since filed trademark lawsuits against Apple in China as well as the United States.

According to Chinese law says Fu, whose administration deals with IP infringement cases, a trademark transfer must be approved by the Trademark Office. Fu has implied that in this case, this approval never occurred.

“Due to the huge impact of this case, the court´s final ruling will directly affect ownership of the iPad trademark and Industrial and Commerce departments will carefully and properly handle the case,” he said according AFP.

Proview makes computer displays and LED lights, and has recently come across some financial difficulty, causing some to wonder if this is why they are pursuing these legal battles with Apple so intensely.

An Apple spokeswoman, Carolyn Wu, told the Associated Press (AP) that the company had no new comment on the possibility of a settlement with Proview. An earlier statement from Apple stated the company would never “knowingly abuse someone else´s trademarks.”

Wu´s statement also mentions that Proview “still owe a lot of people a lot of money, they are now unfairly trying to get more from Apple for a trademark we already paid for.”