Apple, Proview urged to strike deal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 March, 2012, 12:00am


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US computer giant Apple has been told to consider a private settlement with Proview Technology (Shenzhen), the bankrupt computer display maker, before the Guangdong Higher People's Court hands down a final ruling on their dispute over the iPad trademark on the mainland.

The court heard an appeal yesterday launched by Apple against Proview. Its verdict will be used as a guideline for lower level local courts. At the end of yesterday's hearing the judge asked Proview Technology and Apple to consider settling out of court.

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher Li Shunde, who specialises in intellectual property rights law, said the verdict in the Guangdong court would normally be final. However, Apple could pursue a retrial through the Supreme People's Court in Beijing if it argued exceptional conditions, such as an extremely flawed verdict.

A lawyer representing Apple told the court yesterday that the value of its iPad trademarks would not be so high today without its careful marketing and product development, and mainland consumers had established a sole relationship with the iPad as a renowned Apple product.

'If the court grants the iPad's trademarks to Proview, this will confuse and hurt consumers' interests,' the lawyer said.

Last Thursday the Shanghai Pudong New Area People's Court rejected Proview Technology's request to order a halt to iPad sales in Shanghai, saying that it wanted to see the outcome of the appeal in Guangdong.

Apple's reprieve in Shanghai averted what could have been an embarrassing suspension of iPad sales in the US firm's own stores.

However, a court in Huizhou, Guangdong, has sided with debt- laden Proview Technology by granting an injunction against a local reseller, and authorities in at least four cities have considered pulling iPads from shelves in response to a Shenzhen judgment in November that ruled that mainland rights to the brand belonged to Proview.

Compensation for use of the iPad name on the mainland would cost Apple up to US$2 billion, according to Proview Technology. The company contends that Apple infringed on Proview's 'iPAD' trademark, which was registered in Taiwan, the mainland and several other places between 2000 and 2004.

Apple's legal battle over the iPad trademark has also reached the United States, with Proview Electronics, the Taiwanese unit of Proview International, suing the iPhone maker in the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara county on February 17.

The company is asking the trial court to rescind an agreement from December 2009 that transferred all its rights to the iPad trademark to Apple for GBP35,000 (HK$426,000).

Proview asked the US court for unspecified damages, an injunction to stop Apple from using the iPad name and an order to nullify their 2009 agreement.