March 6, 2012

Today, U.S.-based iTV entertainment issued a press release warning Apple to stop infringing its trademark “iTV,” which it has held since formation in 2001. The company uses the 2011 U.S. Patent No. 2011/0154394 A1 (illustration, right) as an example that Apple is already using the iTV trademark, if only internally. Apple describes its device as “an audio and video entertainment center.”

Laughably, Apple has not made any intentions to market “iTV” publicly, yet the contending company, headed by Chief Executive Patrick Hughes, is threatening Apple and plans to crash the iPad launch event tomorrow to hand out pamphlets.

The U.K.-based iTV made similar saber rattles, as well.

Analysts have said that Apple could use the “iTV” name in its product, but nothing remotely public from Apple has come out. In fact, there are many reasons why Apple probably will not ever use “iTV.”

When the Apple TV was announced (below), Steve Jobs said internally it was called “iTV,” but obviously there are enough trademark issues to keep Apple from going mainstream with the name—at least yet. From the patent report filed last year, it is clear that Apple is still calling it “iTV” internally.

The Globe and Mail said Apple was experimenting with voice and gestures; and The New York Post revealed last week that Apple was driving hard bargains with content providers over supplying Apple users with cable-type content by Christmas. Moreover, Apple TV cheerleader Gene Munster said Apple’s entry into the TV business would be the biggest thing to occur since the smartphone. Meanwhile, Samsung said it is not afraid of Apple’s overtures into TV, because consumers mostly care about picture quality.

We first revealed that Apple TVs were disappearing from store shelves last month and that a refresh was imminent.

The full iTV press release follows.

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August 7, 2012

Apple sued over FaceTime in China for allegedly violating patent

A Taiwanese man in a Zhenjiang court filed a lawsuit against Cupertino-based Apple, claiming the company is infringing on his patent with its FaceTime technology that is present in many iOS and OS X products. According to the man’s lawyer, his client earned the patent in 2003 while working under an employer. Once he left, the patent transferred to his name. The patent, which covers a “voice network personal digital assistant” (sounds more like Siri?), is entirely now under his ownership.

The first hearing is happening next month, according to MIC Gadgetbut Apple has not responded to the accusations. The man does not know how much in damages he is seeking, but demands that Apple stops using FaceTime (an unlikely scenario).

This is not the first legal event in China for Apple in 2012. Many of you might  remember the huge Proview case, where the company claimed it held the “iPad” trademark that Apple calls its tablet line. Proview sought $1.6 billion in damages, but the case settled with Apple paying $60 million to Proview.

It is unclear how the latest FaceTime lawsuit in Zhenjiang will play out, but you can check out the lawyer’s statement below to start forming an opinion: [MIC Gadget]

July 1, 2012

iPad sign inside of Chinese Apple Store (Credit: Yahoo)

According to the Associated Press, Apple has ended their long-running iPad name dispute in China with Proview with a $60 million settlement. The ruling was made Monday by the Guangdong High People’s Court. While it got $60 million, Proview wanted even more:

Proview hoped for more money but felt pressure to settle because it needs to pay debts, said a lawyer for the company, Xie Xianghui. He said the company had hoped for as much as $400 million and might still be declared bankrupt in a separate legal proceeding despite the infusion of settlement money.

Apple had purchased the iPad name from Proview in 2009 under a shell company, but the use of the name iPad in China by Apple was ruled to never officially been granted. In February, Proview brought the lawsuit stateside, but a California judge ruled against Proview in the United States in early May.

This $60 million settlement is substantially more than the rumored $16 million offering from Apple. Even at $60 million, the fee is a small amount compared to what would occur – marketing and sales wise – if Apple were to actually lose the right to use the name “iPad” in China.

Apple has been moving quickly in China over the past couple of years, expanding iPad, iPhone, Mac and other product sales in the region while also rolling out updated software to better support the nation.

Apple’s upcoming update to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, iOS 6, and update to Mac OS, OS X Mountain Lion, include the Chinese Web search service Baidu as a search option in Safari in addition to built-in support for Chinese social networks and Mail services.

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Sylvania HomeKit Light Strip

February 14, 2012

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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February 15, 2012

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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With the Fair Labor Association audit of Apple suppliers at Foxconn City underway for several days now, the first details are starting to trickle in. The non-profit agency’s head Auret van Heerden told Reuters that working conditions at Foxconn’s iPad plant are “far better” than those at their factories elsewhere in the country. It is a personal impression and not the official stance, because 30 FLA staff members have three weeks to interview about 35,000 workers at two Foxconn plants in China.

Workers will answer questions anonymously by entering their responses with iPads. Van Heerden was also surprised, he confessed, with how “tranquil” the floor at Foxconn plant is compared with a garment factory.

I was very surprised when I walked onto the floor at Foxconn, how tranquil it is compared with a garment factory. So the problems are not the intensity and burnout and pressure-cooker environment you have in a garment factory. . It’s more a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps.

He speculated that workers are jumping out of windows to take their life due to boredom and alienation stemming from repetitive assembly tasks:

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