Apple bites back over iPad rights
Nearly a week after launching the third generation of its popular media tablet, Apple yesterday went on the offensive against Proview Technology (Shenzhen) and accused the debt-ridden company of 'misleading Chinese courts' and the public about its claim to the 'iPad' trademark.
Carolyn Wu, Apple's spokeswoman in Beijing, said: 'We respect Chinese laws and regulations, and as a company that generates a lot of intellectual property we would never knowingly abuse someone else's trademarks.'
Proview Shenzhen, a subsidiary of failed Hong Kong-listed computer display maker Proview International, maintains that it did not sell its rights to two mainland-registered iPad trademarks, despite a Hong Kong court ruling last year that upheld Apple's ownership based on a December 23, 2009 agreement.
But, the Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court ruled in favour of the mainland firm in November in a trademark-infringement case filed by Apple. Apple appealed the ruling in the Guangdong Higher People's Court, which suggested last month that the two sides try to strike a deal.
Proview Shenzhen had earlier said the mainland trademarks would cost Apple up to US$2 billion.
'Our representatives approached Proview Shenzhen in 2009 and negotiated to acquire the rights to the iPad name - including 10 trademarks, two of which are registered in the PRC,' Wu said, noting that Proview had not used the iPad name for more than three years when their talks started.
Dismissing Proview Shenzhen's claim that the iPad trademarks were not transferred, or that mistakes were made in handling the transaction, Wu said the firm's managers 'were well aware of what they were doing and insisted on selling the trademarks through an affiliate company' - Proview Electronics in Taiwan.
'Proview clearly made that arrangement so they wouldn't have to give the money to their creditors in the PRC,' she said. 'Proview didn't want to pay its debts in 2009 when it sold the iPad trademarks, and because they 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.'
Apple, which paid GBP5,000 (HK$425,000) for the Proview group's worldwide iPad trademarks, was sued by Taipei-based Proview Electronics in California last month in an attempt to rescind that transaction.