Proview Stories April 1, 2013

Apple denied iPad mini trademark in the US

BBC reported today that Apple was recently denied a trademark for “iPad mini” after authorities in the United States claimed the term was “merely descriptive.” Apple still has until July to convince the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but its official stance thus far according to a recently surfaced document is that iPad mini fails to “create a unique, incongruous, or non-descriptive meaning in relation to the goods being small handheld mobile devices comprising tablet computers capable of providing internet access.” In other words, “mini” simply describes a variation of the device, rather than a unique feature that differentiates it from the full-sized iPad.

An excerpt from the USPTO document:

The term “IPAD” is descriptive when applied to applicant’s goods because the prefix “I” denotes “internet.” According to the attached evidence, the letter “i” or “I” used as a prefix and would be understood by the purchasing public to refer to the Internet when used in relation to Internet-related products or services.  Applicant’s goods are identified as “capable of providing access to the Internet”.

The term “PAD” is also descriptive of the applied for goods. The term “pad” refers to a “pad computer” or “internet pad device”, terms used synonymously to refer to tablet computers, or “a complete computer contained in a touch screen.” Please see the attached dictionary definition. In addition, the attached excerpts from third party websites show descriptive use of the term “pad” in connection with tablet computers. This marketplace evidence shows that the term “pad” would be perceived by consumers as descriptive of “pad computers” with internet and interactive capability. Applicant’s goods are identified as “a handheld digital mobile electronic device comprising tablet computer”.

The term “MINI” in the applied for mark is also descriptive of a feature of applicant’s product. Specifically, the attached evidence shows this wording means “something that is distinctively smaller than other members of its type or class”.  See attached definition. The word “mini” has been held merely descriptive of goods that are produced and sold in miniature form.

The main request by the USPTO is that Apple added a disclaimer clarifying that it is only seeking the exclusive right to “MINI” as part of the entire iPad trademark. That would prevent claiming exclusive rights to the word mini, which the USPTO noted, “others may need to use to describe or show their goods or services in the marketplace.”

This isn’t the first time that Apple has run into hurdles related to its iPad trademark. It previously fought cases in both California and China with companies claiming to own rights to the iPad name.

Proview Stories May 10, 2012

Apple reportedly offers Proview $16M for Chinese iPad trademark

A judge in the United States dismissed Proview’s suit two days ago against Apple in the U.S., and it seems the dispute may be wrapping up soon, because the companies have been discussing a settlement amount.

A report by Sina (via the Beijing Times/TNW) claims that Apple offered $16 million as a settlement for the iPad trademark in China, which Apple was duped out of prior to the product’s 2010 launch. Apple bought the Chinese trademark using secret subsidiary IPAD, but the Taiwanese arm of Proview had no right to sell it, because it was a separate entity from the Chinese company that owned rights to “IPAD” in China.

Proview China is now in bankruptcy to the tune of $63 million to Chinese banks and others; so $16 million is a long way from bringing it back from the dead. However, the creditors may choose to take what they can get.

By the way, the new iPad is conspicuously late to China—with some even wondering if it is because of the trademark dispute.

Proview Stories May 7, 2012

Apple offers to settle Proview iPad trademark dispute, ‘Big Gap’ remains in reaching agreement

According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple offered to settle with Chinese company Proview after a long, ongoing battle over the iPad trademark in China. While the amount of compensation offered was not disclosed, Proview’s lawyers have not agreed to the deal and claim a “big gap’ remains in reaching a settlement.

Recently, there was speculation that the trademark battle might have led to Apple holding off from launching the new iPad in the country. The case and negotiation process will continue at the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong, while separate complaints filed by Proview in February will seek compensation for alleged infringement of IP laws in the country.

In an interview with Xinhua on Sunday, Proview’s lawyer Xie Xianghui was positive negotiations were progressing:

“We feel that the attitude of Apple Inc. has changed. Although they expressed that they were willing to negotiate, they have never taken any action before. But now, they are having conversations with us, and we have begun to consult on the case.”

Proview Stories April 24, 2012

Apple’s iPad trademark dispute with cash-strapped display company Proview has continued to drag on despite the Chinese company claiming it was in negotiations with Apple as recent as February. Today, several reports suggested Apple and Proview are now involved in court-moderated mediation with senior officials who are boasting Apple could lose the right to the iPad trademark in China. The mediation would be the first confirmation of settlement talks between the two companies. The Associated Press reports:

Apple Inc. risks losing the right to use the iPad trademark in China, a senior official suggested Tuesday, as a Chinese court was seeking to mediate a settlement between the technology giant and a local company challenging its use of the iPad name… Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration, told reporters in Beijing that the government regards Shenzhen Proview Technology as the rightful owner of the trademark for the popular tablet computers

If Apple and Proview are unable to come to a settlement in the talks, Guangdong High Court in southern China will rule over the case in the months to come. According to Deputy Director of China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce Fu Shuangjian (via The Wall Street Journal), Proview is still the legitimate owner of the iPad trademark in the country:

“Currently, Proview Shenzhen is still the legitimate registered owner of the IPAD trademark,” Mr. Fu said. But he indicated that officials are waiting for the Guangdong court’s final judgment, after which the industry and commerce sector “will deal with the case according to law.”

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Proview Stories April 18, 2012

Did Apple snub China iPad launch over trademark mess?

Forbes brings up the point that Apple may have snubbed China in its new iPad launch plans over the iPad trademark lawsuit it is fighting with Proview. While there are many other factors likely in play —like logistics—it certainly would not be out of character for Apple. Plus, Apple gets to sell them cheaper in Hong Kong anyway.

Apple’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook recently toured China and met Chinese officials about issues concerning trademark and copyright infringement, which seems to overwhelmingly favor China.

Proview Stories March 28, 2012

We knew earlier this week that Tim Cook had “great meetings with Chinese officials” during his first trip to China as chief executive officer of Apple, but today a report from Bloomberg gives us new details about exactly who he met in China. According to the report, Cook met Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who could replace Wen Jiabao as Premier of the country’s government in 2013. Cook also met with Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong a day before. Apple spokesperson Carolyn Wu told Bloomberg that Li and Cook had a “great meeting,” but she declined to talk about the specifics.

However, a report from The Wall Street Journal cited local media reports and claimed Cook and Li were discussing “intellectual-property issues and greater cooperation.”

According to representatives for the creditors of Shenzhen-based Proview, the company Apple is in a dispute with over the iPad trademark, Cook is on a “political public relations campaign” regarding the legal disputes. Li Su, president of Hejun Vanguard Group who represents Proview’s creditors, made the remarks. When Apple’s spokesperson Carolyn Wu asked about Li’s comment, she said the following:

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