Apple sued for $1.6 billion for using "iPad" in China, apology requested

By on February 9, 2012, 7:30 AM

A major Chinese display company, Proview Technology, has demanded that Apple cease using "iPad" in China. After engaging in "ambiguous" negotiations with Apple over the matter, executives at Proview have decided to take legal action by suing the company for 1.6 billion dollars, filing a temporary restraining order and demanding an apology.

It is important to reiterate that Proview is only interested in China -- Apple would be free to use the iconic noun in other parts of the world. The company has been in talks with Apple for over a year now, but have been unable to come to an agreement.

"We've been negotiating with Apple," Yang Rongshan, a Proview chairman said. "I can't tell you what the status is right now since this is a commercial secret, but so far their attitude is still quite ambiguous."

After Apple ignored Proview's request to cease using the name in 2010, the company confronted China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) for assistance.

A legal battle ensued and subsequently, in December 2011, a Shenzhen court ruled that Apple had violated their trademark agreement. However, Apple appealed the decision and has since continued to sell iPads in the country.

The now ubiquitous brand name originally appeared in 2000 without any relationship to Apple. A Shenzen-based subsidiary of Proview had trademarked the term "IPAD" in China, most of Europe, Indonesia and Singapore. 

In 2006, when Apple must have first been flirting with the idea of using the term for one of its products -- perhaps for the iPhone or even early incarnations of the tablet itself -- the company discovered that the name was registered by Proview.

In 2009, two IPAD-related trademarks were sold by Proview's subsidiary to a firm named IP Application Development, a company with a peculiar set of initials: IPAD. As it turns out, IPAD's parent company is actually Apple and the firm quickly transferred trademark rights to its parent.

Despite their dealings in 2009, Proview believes their subsidiary's agreement with Apple did not give the company rights to use the trademark in China. The SAIC has begun another investigation into the matter while Apple continues its appeal to a higher court.

"We have to admit that Apple's iPad is a great product," Rongshan kindly acknowledged, "But this is not the reason to support their irregular practice here."




User Comments: 18

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UnknownSky said:

How many times has Apple been sued lately?

Tomorrow_Rains said:

How many times has apple done the suing lately?

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

How long do these Sueing cases take?

Guest said:

Wow how many time has china said that patterns and coppyrights dont apply to them.... now that its in their interest their sueing!! Come on if they win this all the international corps should be able to sue chinese copagy's for the copyright and patterns infrigment

Neo

Scshadow said:

I hate apple but I think they did the right thing here. If Apple tries to buy the trademark directly, greedy little bitches will demand all kinds of money. If they make a sub company that is unknown, the trademark gets sold at a fair value price. Its obvious proview wasn't using the trademark as they were willing to sell it, so the trademark really didn't have any value. They are just whining now because they sold it and had no clue it would end up in the hands of a multi billion corporation like Apple.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

LOL screw China

Guest said:

I love apples (with a "s" at the end) if you got it .. :-/

Guest said:

This is BS! First off, it's not iPad, it's Apple iPad. So, if Proview uses iPad to market a product, there can be no consumer confusion, that is, nobody will think that it's a product from Apple because who doesn't know what an Apple iPad looks like?

Secondly, Proview doesn't sell or manufacture tablets, so, he can't sue a tablet manufacturer for using iPad when he's got nothing to lose. They are companies in different markets, so, where's problem!?

I'm willing to bet that Proview will lose this suit because I can't see a reason for Apple not to use iPad. If there was a new burger called the McDonald's iPad, I wouldn't see a reason for Apple to sue McDonald because people won't buy the McDonald's iPad and confuse it with the Apple iPad tablet.

Proview is just trying to make a name for themselves. Suing a big fish always brings in fame, so, this is what Proview is trying to accomplish here IMO.

Guest said:

This is more BS. First of all, it's not Fanboy, it's Apple Fanboy. But as everyone knows a fanboy by any other name is still an Apple fanboy. I'm tired of all you fanboys always defending your freaking fanboy ruler. Get a life. Or better yet, get right over to you favorite McDonald's for a greasy iPad fanboy burger.

MilwaukeeMike said:

" Apple would be free to use the iconic pronoun in other parts of the world" ipad is a noun. Pronouns are words that replace nouns like I, me, my, him, her, it, them, etc.

Anyway... call it an iTab, like anyone would care.

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

Milwaukeemike said:

" Apple would be free to use the iconic pronoun in other parts of the world" ipad is a noun. Pronouns are words that replace nouns like I, me, my, him, her, it, them, etc.

Anyway... call it an iTab, like anyone would care.

that would actually be a great way to introduce the new line of tablets.

"oh, you still have an iPad? iTabs are better."

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Guest said:

Wow how many time has china said that patterns and coppyrights dont apply to them.... now that its in their interest their sueing!! Come on if they win this all the international corps should be able to sue chinese copagy's for the copyright and patterns infrigment

Neo

If you read the article, Proview had a patent for IPAD in 2000. Your point may be valid for other products but this doesn't seem entirely frivolous.

Guest said:

Apple does sue cafe or supermarket for using something like apple in their logo.. or even school.. think again about what you said..

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/right-click/apple-threatens-s
e-small-german-cafe-logo-205037880.html

http://gizmodo.com/5059881/apple-sues-school-for-using-the-s
me-fruit-in-a-logo

http://www.dailytech.com/Apple+Files+Complaint+Againts+Woolw
rths+Over+Fruity+Logo+it+Claims+is+Too+Similar/article1642
.htm

Guest said:

I came here to say that Milwaukeemike is right. This author has no clue what a pronoun is.

Guest said:

I can't help pointing out that the chinese always, always have stolen ideas. They have had no one of their own since the days of Kon fu Tse (Konfucius)... I start to suspect they even stole the idea of the compass - but they got the credit of inventing it...

Torbjorn from Sweden

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

Milwaukeemike said:

ipad is a noun.

I mixed up pronoun with proper noun. I have updated the article and thanks for the heads up, as always.

Guest said:

I get the feeling that if this issue were reversed that it would remain the American/western company who were in the eye's of those commentating who would be in the right.

Fact: Apple will sue anyone who might even be close to infringing it's IP regardless of where the infringement may be regardless of competition from said infringement.

It doesn't matter whether the product or idea by Proview is or is not competing or similar, Apple would like one rule to apply to them and a different one to apply to everyone else... strangely like MS of old... :-/

Big bad here Apple, they should lose the case. IMO.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I mixed up pronoun with proper noun. I have updated the article and thanks for the heads up, as always.
Huh? I just thought it was a contraction..... Well, NOT... !

Although, as long as you didn't call it an "iProp", you should be good to go....

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