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."