Apple settles iPad battle with US$60m payout

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2012, 12:00am


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Apple ended its long and acrimonious legal battle over the use of the iPad name on the mainland with a US$60 million payout to Proview Technology (Shenzhen), under a record settlement mediated by the Guangdong Higher People's Court.

The court yesterday said the litigants agreed to the deal last week and that Apple had already made the payment. It was substantially less than the US$2 billion claimed by the mainland company in February.

The iPad remained the mainland's top-selling media tablet last year, despite the legal wrangle.

Proview lawyer Xie Xianghui said the settlement was also expected to help end Apple's lawsuit in Hong Kong against failed computer display maker Proview International, subsidiaries Proview Technology, Taipei-based Proview Electronics and the group's bankrupt founder, Rowell Yang Long-san.

But Li Su, the chairman of Hejun Vanguard Group, representing Proview's major creditors, said: 'It is not clear how the creditors will get paid. The money is very small. Apple made the government interfere in this matter. Its government PR worked behind the scenes to float the story that Vice-Premier Li Keqiang met Apple CEO [Tim Cook] during his recent visit to Beijing.'

Xie said the settlement was 'a practical choice [for Proview] because it has so many creditors and can't continue fighting these lawsuits against Apple'. The US$60 million was the highest payout for a domestic trade-infringement case, but it was 'not enough to pay back all of Proview's debts', Xie said.

There were no comments from Apple's legal representative or its spokeswoman for China. Stan Abrams, a Beijing-based intellectual property lawyer, said Apple 'came out of this situation pretty well' even though it long argued that its iPad trademarks were lawfully acquired.

Apple's legal dispute against Proview began soon after the group sold its worldwide trademarks to the iPad name - including two registered on the mainland - to IP Application Development, a British firm set up by Apple to acquire such brand rights, for GBP35,000 in December 2009.