Proview: ‘We are now preparing for negotiations with Apple’

Cash-strapped display maker Proview that sued Apple over the iPad moniker in China feels it has the Cupertino, Calif.-headquartered gadget giant right where it wants them, cornered against the wall. Just as the Intermediate People’s Court in Huizhou ruled last Friday that local distributors should stop selling iPads in China, Proview now told The Times of India it us ready to sit at the negotiating table, apparently telling Apple it has “peaceful intentions.”

The company wants money, is hoping for an out of court settlement, and it is shooting for as high as $2 billion for the I-PAD trademark in China. Legal representatives for the debt-laden company told the paper Tuesday:

We are now preparing for negotiations. The court cases will continue until we reach an agreement.

A court in Shanghai will begin hearings tomorrow on whether Proview’s claims have any merit and the ruling could take months, Reuters reported. Whether or not Proview’s strategy works, that is anyone’s guess at this point. Apple is even threatening to sue Proview over “defamatory statements.” This highlights Apple’s unwillingness to engage in trademark licensing talks with the Chinese firm that recently filed for bankruptcy…

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Chinese Court: Stores should stop selling iPads; Apple: Proview hurt our reputation, we’ll sue over ‘defamatory statements’


Pictured above: Proview’s iMac-like computer named iPAD, released 12 years ago.

The latest in an ongoing iPad trademark dispute in China comes as Shenzhen-based Proview claims a small victory in its pursue of a $2 billion compensation from Apple over the iPad moniker in China. According to a report filed by The Associated Press, Proview’s lawyer Xie Xianghui told the media Monday that the Intermediate People’s Court in Huizhou ruled last Friday that local distributors should stop selling iPads in the country.

Previous reports declared that commercial authorities in more than 40 Chinese cities were removing the device from store shelves. Apple appealed to Guangdong’s High Court against an earlier ruling in Proview’s favor, stressing in today’s statement its case is still pending in mainland China. It should be noted that Hong Kong’s and Mainland China’s legal systems are not very much alike.

PCWorld followed up with an update and said Apple will sue Proview’s lawyers and bosses for  “defamatory statements.” Folks familiar with Apple’s letter to Proview claim it reads: “It is inappropriate to release information contrary to the facts to the media, especially when such disclosures have the effect of wrongfully causing damage to Apple’s reputation.” The document is embedded below.

So, who is the biggest beneficiary of this brouhaha? Samsung— its Galaxy Tab family of tablets is after the same high-end of the market. Per IDC, Apple in the third quarter of 2011 moved 1.3 million iPads in China versus 58,000 Galaxy Tabs.

Once a well-known display maker, Proview is now strapped for cash and recently filed for bankruptcy. The company maintains it first used the iPAD moniker, which stands for “Internet Personal Access Device,” for its iMac-like computer dated back to 2000.

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The price of the iPad name in China has gone up to $2B

Chinese vendor Proview apparently owns rights to the iPad trademark in China, and it has two billion reasons not to honor its prior agreement with Apple as the Wall Street Journal cited a representative of Proview creditors who suggested compensation from Apple “could range as high as $2 billion,” which is up from the previous sum of $1.5 billion. Cash-strapped Proview recently filed for bankruptcy, so courts could interpret this as banks’ last-ditch effort to recoup their loans to Proview.

A Hong Kong court ruled last year that Apple’s agreement with Proview was valid, but that case is still pending on the Chinese mainland. Court documents uncovered by Dow Jones suggest on Dec. 23, 2009, Apple of California bought the rights to the iPad trademark from Proview in South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, and China for a paltry sum of about $55,494 in today’s dollars. Proview waived its right to sue for past infringements and passing off.

Proview said it still owns the trademark and maintains the deal did n0t include the China market. Another court in Mainland China sided with Proview, thus paving the way for a potential injunction on both the import and export of iPads. The world’s largest contract manufacturer, Foxconn, is exclusively manufacturing Apple’s tablet in China.

Proview chairperson Yang Rongshan said today: “If we are not compensated properly, then Apple doesn’t use the iPad trademark in mainland China.” Shenzhen-based Proview, once a well-known monitor vendor, claimed it started developing a product called the iPAD in 2000. iPAD stands for “Internet Personal Access Device.” So, what does Proview’s iPAD look like? Images are right after the break.

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Apple finally talks, says Proview refuses to honor agreement to transfer iPad trademark

Numerous online stores in China took the iPad off their shelves after Proview said Apple was breaking its trademark on the term “iPad.” The fight continues in court, but Apple released a statement today to China Daily about Proview’s allegations on Apple allegedly breaking the trademark.

“We bought Proview’s worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago. Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple, and a Hong Kong court has sided with Apple in this matter,” according to the statement, which also said the case is still pending on the Chinese mainland.”

Apple said it purchased Proview’s iPad trademark over several years ago in 10 different countries. Proview is refusing to transfer the trademark, but Hong Kong courts have already sided with Apple, according to the statement.

Many accuse the Mainland Chinese government of favoring local companies in these types of matters, so it may not be easy to clear this hurdle for Apple. Chinese customs already said the iPad is too powerful to be banned; although, Proview tried to block iPads from coming in or going out of China earlier this week.

Proview countered the Hong Kong situation:

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Apple tells Amazon China to pull iPads over Proview trademark dispute, customs say it’s too popular to be banned

A country-wide import and export ban on Apple’s iPad that ProView is pushing for over an ongoing litigation with the iPad moniker will not be easy to implement, or at least that is what Chinese customs officials told Reuters this morning. Chinese company ProView owns the “iPad” trademark and is petitioning Chinese customs to stop shipments of iPads in and out of the country.

Foxconn manufactures the iPads in Shenzhen, China, and such a ban would disrupt global iPad supply. Another result of the legal battle over the iPad name: At Apple’s request, online shopping websites Amazon China and Suning reportedly removed the iPad until the trademark dispute is resolved. Proview is hoping to extract an estimated $1.5 billion from Apple for the rights to use the iPad moniker in China.

The plan reportedly is not working as expected, because local customs think implementing a country-wide ban on such a successful and globally popular product would be impractical, to say the least. Moreover, customs authorities are unlikely to intervene in the trademark battle, or so the story has it. For its part, Proview insists it started developing a tablet called the iPad in 2000. The company’s boss Yang Long-san confirmed the latest development to the news gathering organization:

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Proview tries to block iPads from coming in or going out of China

Not content with officials yesterday confiscating iPads in Shijiazhuang over an ongoing litigation on the iPad moniker, Taiwanese company Proview Electronics is now looking to put a ban on both iPad imports and exports, according to Reuters. The company is already petitioning Chinese customs to stop shipments of iPads. Proview sued Apple last year over its “I-PAD” trademark and could seek up to $1.5 billion for the name from the Cupertino, Calif.-headquartered gadget powerhouse.

Apple is in an increasingly difficult place here. Considering every iPad is built in China (until Brazil plants go online), a full-blown export ban could disrupt the iPad business on a global scale. Proview’s legal position stems from Chinese laws that seek to prevent the sale of counterfeit goods in the country. The news gathering organization confirmed the development this morning:

A Chinese tech firm claiming to own the “iPad” trademark plans to seek a ban on shipments of Apple Inc’s computer tablets into and out of China, a lawyer for the company, Proview Technology (Shenzhen), said on Tuesday.

Proview also asked the country’s Administration Industry and Commerce to put in effect iPad confiscations in as much as 30 cities. Apple’s position in this dispute remains unchanged as a spokesperson re-iterated the official line:

We bought Proview’s worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago. Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China and a Hong Kong court has sided with Apple in this matter.

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