The iPad maker is defending its moniker by insisting the device became synonymous with both the company name and the tablets. PCWorld quotes Apple’s legal representatives who argued at the Guangdong Province Higher People’s Court hearing this morning that Apple made the iPad name famous in the first place:
Among consumers across the world, the iPad trademark is already uniquely connected with Apple. When consumers see a tablet with an iPad trademark, they know it comes from Apple, and not from another company.
No ruling occurred during the six-hour long hearing, and the judges adjourned without setting a new court date. Should Apple lose the appeal, Proview’s request to put a sales ban on the iPad in 30 Chinese cities will go-ahead. Moreover, Apple would risk lawsuits seeking damages. Last week, the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court rejected a preliminary iPad sales injunction until the Guangdong court made its ruling on the appeal.
Apple’s argument might actually backfire, because its legal standoff with Proview has blown up. Wikipedia claims, “A trademark owner takes a risk in engaging in such a corrective campaign because the campaign may serve as an admission that the trademark is generic.” I am not a lawyer, but it seems obvious Apple might be calling upon itself long-term damage with this testimony.
Arguing that the iPad became a generic term for tablets theoretically means anyone could use it as a descriptor. Besides, why do you think Proview brought this battle to the United States? The opposite argument is that Apple actually owns the iPad name, and it is the only company marketing a product that became synonymous for tablets in the first place.
According to Bloomberg, Apple’s lawyers said letting Proview use the iPad moniker would confuse consumers and harm its interests. This is in line with Apple’s prior stance that a sales ban would hurt China’s national interest. The gadget is manufactured in Foxconn’s Shenzhen plants that employ up to a million workers assembling Apple gadgets. Proview is looking for an out-of-court settlement. It is allegedly seeking a $400 million compensation from Apple in exchange to use the iPad name in mainland China–a far cry from the initial $2 billion target.
Proview recently filed for bankruptcy, because it is in dire straits and strapped for cash. The company made an iMac-like computer in 2000 dubbed the “I-PAD.” It insisted the iPad being synonymous with tablets does not change the fact that Apple set up a United Kingdom-based company to secretly get the iPad trademark from Proview in 2009, which is valid in 10 countries for a mere $55,000. That company did not divulge Apple was the buyer, therefore misleading Proview in its lawyers’ opinion. Proview also argues the iPad trademark rights were never transferred, because Apple signed a contract with a subsidiary that has no authority to sell the iPad trademark now valid in mainland China. Proview’s lawyers also claim no one in the company’s Shenzhen headquarters knew its Taiwan unit signed away the China trademarks. Put simply, Proview Taiwan agreed to sign over the trademark, but Proview Taiwan did not own the trademark. What a mind job, huh?
As of Dec. 31, 2011, Apple sold cumulative 55.28-million iPad units around the world. The original iPad went on sale on April 3, 2010 in the United States, and the release of iPad 2 in March 2011 followed it. Apple’s iPad sales reached 32 million worldwide units in 2011 and created a cool revenue of $20.4 billion. Apple is gearing for a third-generation iPad introduction slated for March 7 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts at 10 a.m. PST. 9to5Mac will provide live coverage of the announcements as they go down.
- Proview: “We are now preparing for negotiations with Apple” (9to5mac.com)
- Apple prevails in Shanghai showdown with Proview, iPad sales allowed to continue (9to5mac.com)
- Proview brings the ‘iPad’ name battle to the US (9to5mac.com)
- Chinese customs: iPad too powerful and popular to be banned (9to5mac.com)
- Fighting Proview in Shanghai court, Apple highlights iPad’s benefits to China’s economy (9to5mac.com)