Apple mulls action against Proview

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am

Apple may take further legal action against Proview Technology (Shenzhen), as the bankrupt mainland company that claims to own the 'iPad' brand violated an injunction issued last year in Hong Kong.

Beijing-based King & Wood, Apple's legal counsel, delivered the seven-page warning on Monday to Proview Shenzhen chairman Rowell Yang Long-san.

It was a measured response to Yang's pronouncements to the media last Friday, when he said Proview Shenzhen could sue Apple in the US as early as this month to protect its rights to the iPad name. He also claimed that this trademark had never been signed over to Apple.

The mainland firm, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed computer screen maker Proview International that Yang founded, estimated that compensation to use the brand could cost Apple up to US$2 billion.

In their letter, Apple's lawyers told Yang that he had authorised Proview Shenzhen to negotiate with Apple and IP Application {minus} a company the US firm set up in 2009 to acquire trademarks to the iPad name {minus} about selling that name. 'The contract and assignment of documents were signed on December 23, 2009, by Mai Shih-hung, the general counsel of Proview Shenzhen, at your direction,' Apple's lawyers said.

Despite that agreement, in which Apple paid ?35,000 (HK$430,000) for the iPad trademarks, Yang, Proview Shenzhen and its agents continued to make 'false and misleading' statements to the public about the US firm's rights to the name, Apple's lawyers said in the letter. They added that those statements and other actions violated the preliminary injunction granted to Apple by Hong Kong's Court of First Instance on June 28 last year against Yang and Proview.

That ruling, they said, barred the defendants from trying to 'sell or otherwise exploit the iPad trademark, and from making any oral or written statement to the effect that Proview Shenzhen owns those rights'.

In the Hong Kong court ruling, Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor said: 'Proview Holdings, Proview Electronics and Proview Shenzhen, all clearly under Yang's control, have refused to take any steps to ensure compliance with the agreement so the China trademarks [for iPad] are properly assigned to IP Application.'

Apple's lawyers said the final adjudication of the US firm's case in Hong Kong had not yet been reached. They added that Apple's appeal against a decision last November by Shenzhen's Intermediate People's Court, which ruled in favour of Proview Shenzhen, was set to be heard later this month by the Higher People's Court of Guangdong.

Carolyn Wu, Apple's spokeswoman in Beijing, declined to comment on details of the case, but said Apple had bought Proview's worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries, including the mainland. Sun Peilin, of market research firm Analysys International, said Apple's battle with Proview was helping sales of rival media tablets from Lenovo and Samsung. Proview Shenzhen has asked regulators to stop iPad sales in several mainland cities.


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