Patent & Trade Mark

The iPAD trademark in China – the aftermath

Date: 03 July 2012
After a messy dispute between Apple Inc and Proview Taiwan over rights to the trademark “IPAD” in China [see original article 5 March 2012], including litigation which even spread to the USA, the parties have settled out of court, with Apple agreeing to pay Proview US$60 million.  Apple is now free to keep using the iPad brand name for its tablet in China without threat of suit.
Proview Taiwan registered the trademark “IPAD” in China and other Asian countries back in 2001, and agreed to sell the registrations to Apple in 2009 in its name.  However the Chinese registrations were in the name of its Chinese sister company, Proview Shenzhen, rather than Proview Taiwan. Proview Shenzhen refused to complete the deal, and so Apple sued Proview. Proview fought back hard, and at one stage Apple's rights to be able to sell its tablet in China under the iPad brand name were in real jeopardy.
Given the size of the iPad market in China, $60 million may actually be a good deal for Apple given the real risk of losing its brand name in China. That said, they may have also avoided such a high price had they been more careful with the trademark ownership details in the original 2009 deal.
The insolvent Proview probably also realised the original £35,000 paid by Apple for its trademarks was well under value and that this dispute was a potential way to solve its debt crisis.  Proview’s lawyer has effectively admitted this, indicating that although the $60 million helps, they had hoped for more and this sum may still not be enough to stave off bankruptcy.

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