Debt-laden Proview Technology is being sued by its own lawyers for legal fees that helped Proview collect US$60 million in a recent lawsuit against tech giant Apple over the iPad trademark.
The Beijing-based Grandall Law Firm filed suit on Thursday, seeking about 15 million yuan (HK$18.4 million) in outstanding legal fees that Proview owes after its settlement with Apple nearly a month ago.
Xie Xianghui, one of Proview's main lawyers in the trademark dispute, confirmed the filing date and said Grandall was suing in Shenzhen's Yantian District People's Court.
'I've been a lawyer for nearly 20 years, but I have never met a client like this. This is rare in China,' Xie told the South China Morning Post.
Grandall agreed to represent Proview in March 2010 in exchange for 4 per cent of the firm's settlement amount.
'According to our contract, the amount should be settled immediately with no delay,' Xie said. 'The contract we signed should be honoured, but Proview's behaviour lacks integrity and should be condemned. It is unethical and has no moral baseline.'
Yang Rongshan , founder of Proview Technology, was quoted by the Shenzhen Evening News yesterday as saying that Grandall's actions were 'troublemaking and nonsense'.
Yang said the disbursement of payments to his firm's creditors was a matter for the courts to settle.
Xie said Grandall had repeatedly asked Proview for payment without success.
He said his law firm had assigned nearly 20 lawyers from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to help financially-ailing Proview turn a 1 million yuan offer from Apple into the US$60 million court-mediated settlement over the course of two years.
'This is a victory that resulted from our efforts,' Xie said. 'We even made payments in advance for business trips, as well as covered fees for court hearings and obtaining evidence.'
Xiao Caiyuan , a lawyer at Shenzhen-based Guanghe Law Firm who represented Proview, signed a similar compensation contract with Proview. But Guanghe set its commission at 8 per cent of the total settlement amount - meaning it is owed about 30 million yuan. It has yet to file a lawsuit against Proview.
The Global Times had earlier reported that Proview owed banks about US$400 million.
Caixin Weekly reported that the US$60 million from Apple had been placed under the court's control at the request of Proview's creditors.