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]