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Apple in Trademark Battle Over iPad in China

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iPad by Sean MacEntee on Flickr

iPad by Sean MacEntee on Flickr

The Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People’s Court in southern China has denied Apple’s attempt to protect the name “iPad” by throwing out its lawsuit against Proview Technology based in Shenzhen.

In trying to protect the name “iPad” in China, Apple filed the lawsuit against the tech company alleging trademark infringement. Proview contends, however, that it registered “iPad” for use in several countries, including China, back in 2000.

At the heart of the dispute is Apple’s purchase of the “iPad” “global trademark” from IP Applications, a UK company, in 2010; IP Applications had purchased the trademark from Proview Electronics, a Taiwanese subsidiary, in 2009.

The court found that Apple’s trademark rights were purchased only through Proview’s subsidiary in Taiwan, and that the Shenzhen-based company was not a party to the agreement; therefore, the court ruled, the contract to transfer trademark rights of “iPad” to Apple was not binding on Proview’s Shenzhen company.

Apple can appeal this decision, but if it cannot secure its right to use “iPad” in China, the company just may have to begin selling its tablet under a different name — or make an offer that Proview can’t refuse. Proview just might be willing to make a deal considering it currently has debt of about 400 million yuan ($63 million). Moreover, Reuters notes that Caixin Online reported early this year that the tech company was suing Apple for 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) on a trademark infringement claim, and PCWorld reports this case is “set to go to trial.”

China is a critical market for Apple; ZDNet Asia cites “[o]ther predictions [that] noted that China would become Apple’s largest market by 2014.”

Apple has not commented further but did confirm the lawsuit.

What do you think Apple should do? With the size of the iPad market in China, can Apple afford to take a chance on a different name for its iconic tablet? Will one of the most powerful companies in the world let itself be pushed around by the largest country in the world?  What will happen when the unstoppable force of Apple meets the unmovable object of China?

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December 7th, 2011 at 10:08 am

Posted in Intellectual Property

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