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Evidence of Proview transfer of iPad trademark emerges

updated 08:00 pm EST, Thu February 16, 2012

Documents contradict Proview's 'affiliate' defense

Documents obtained by AllThingsD appear to show conclusively that Apple did indeed buy worldwide rights to the trademark name "iPad" in 10 different countries from Proview prior to the introduction of the tablet, and not from a "subsidiary that didn't own the name" as Proview has been claiming. The documents, part of a court case Apple won in a Hong Kong court, strongly support Apple's version of events.

The documents (a sample of which are seen below) primarily show that representatives from Proview International itself dealt with Apple on the matter of the trademarks. Letters signed by Huy Yuan come from Proview's own legal department, which was located in Shenzen, China and specifically mention a meeting held in Taiwan. Another document shows specifically that Apple was buying rights to the trademark in specific countries where Proview held the name, including China. A provincial court initially sided with Proview against Apple, but Apple appealed the decision, which potentially carried a fine of up to $1.6 billion.

Apple was using a fronting corporation name of IPADL (IP Application Development Limited), based in London, to obtain the trademarks. Large corporations often set up dummy companies to handle such transactions in order to maintain secrecy over the identity of the real purchaser, which would drive up the price. Apple via its IPADL affiliate paid 35,000 (approximately $55,000 US) plus transfer costs for the rights to the name.

The transactions took place in Taiwan in late December 2009, less than a month before the introduction of the iPad and only a few months before its debut. The court in China sided with Apple on the strength of its evidence -- there is even a document with the title page of "Assignment of Trademarks in China."

Proview is appealing the court decision, but has said it is "unlikely" that it will win a ban on iPad exports and imports, which would effectively amount to a global ban. Apple has maintained that the company sold its rights and is "not honoring its agreement." Proview is more likely hoping to win a fine against Apple of up to $38 million rather than stop iPads from being sold, though it has tried to put pressure on Apple by going after resellers and using provincial authorities rather than national ones. [via AllThingsD]














by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +13

    Yup

    Well, that's about as conclusive as you could possibly ask for, unless Proview is claiming that somebody was illicitly pretending to be them during these negotiations and giving away trademarks he/she didn't have the right to assign. Which I wouldn't really believe for a second, being that it took two years for them to follow up on this supposed infringement.

    Honestly, if there's anything that qualifies as predatory use of courts it's this--they're obviously cheesed that they gave away a household brand name for a modest sum of money (though still quite a bit, depending on how you look at it) when they thought they were dealing with some random UK company instead of Apple.

    I have no love for huge corporations and their legal departments, but greedy losers like this should be punished, not just denied further profit, when it turns out their case is intentionally baseless (another story quoted the HK judge as calling it "predatory," I believe). At the very least, Apple should sue for it's $55,000 back for breach of contract.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +7

    In the meantime...

    Those b******* were probably trading options and AAPL all over the place.

  1. facebook_Henry

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Apr 2012

    +1

    Not conclusive evidence

    Unfortunately the above documents only show that the Taiwanese company represented to Apple that the Taiwan company owned the trademark. However what the Shenzhen company is saying is that it is indeed the Shenzhen company that owned the trademark.

    The above documents are just contracts - it is possible that the Taiwan company MISREPRESENTED to Apple that they owned the trademarks while it was indeed the Shenzhen company which owned them all the way. While this would probably give Apple a claim for damages against the Taiwan company, it does not entitle Apple to the trademark.

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