Apple May Lose iPad Trademark in China

By Joseph Mandour on December 9, 2011

iPad-150x150Orange County – On December 6, 2011, the Intermediate People’s Court ruled that the Chinese company Proview Technology was the rightful owner of the trademarks “IPAD” and “iPAD” in China.

Proview originally attempted to manufacture a tablet computer in 2000 and obtained trademarks for the word “IPAD” and “iPAD”in the EU, China, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam between 2000 and 2004. Apple, now famous worldwide for its tablet computer iPad, agreed to purchase from Proview Technology’s parent company in 2006 the global trademark of the word IPAD for approximately $54,000.

However, after the purchase, Apple failed to file the necessary paperwork to transfer the rights in China and the Chinese Trademark Office rejected the application to transfer ownership of the trademark. Proview has since denied that the agreement included China. Apple then filed suit in the Intermediate People’s Court that it owned the trademark but the Court ruled against Apple stating that they bore “a higher duty of care” to make sure that the “necessary procedures for the transfer of a trademark” were completed.

Since the ruling earlier this week, Proview has commenced the process of suing retailers of Apple iPad tablet computers in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Huizhou to take advantage of Apple’s public embarrassment over the lawsuit and leverage its position for a large settlement. Any disruption to iPad sales in China could be devastating for Apple where they own 74% of the tablet computer market. Apple has the right to appeal the case but Proview has already filed suit against Apple for trademark infringement.

Proview, a company on the brink of bankruptcy before the case now finds itself as the beneficiary of a potential windfall. Attorneys for Proview have argued the reason for moving so quickly against Apple by suing retailers of iPad computer is “because Apple is a very influential company, no one wants to think they are being unreasonable. But in this case, they really are being unreasonable.”

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