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Court dismisses Proview's US trademark suit against Apple

updated 08:47 pm EDT, Tue May 8, 2012

Says dispute will have to be settled in Hong Kong

Proview's attempt to assert the legal argument that it was duped into selling the iPad trademark to Apple in the US has failed, with Judge Mark Pierce of the California Superior Court dismissing the lawsuit per Apple's request. The court said Proview had failed to show any reason why the dispute couldn't be resolved in Hong Kong, where the two companies are currently before the second-highest level Chinese courts.

Proview's case was tossed on May 4th following Apple's motion for dismissal, which argued that the two companies had agreed to settle any legal disputes in Hong Kong. The motion to dismiss was originally filed by Apple in February, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In the US suit, Proview tried to advance the theory that Apple had deceived the company when it used a "dummy corporation" (in this case, Intellectual Property Application Development or I-PAD Ltd) to negotiate the sale of the worldwide trademark. Large corporations often use this tactic as a way to keep the seller from raising the price of the trademark artificially, in effect blackmailing a larger company that may want to avoid disclosing what they want the trademark for.

Interestingly, Proview has taken a very different approach in its argument before the Chinese courts, saying that the branch of the company Apple negotiated with (Proview Electronics in Taiwan) had no right to sell the trademark owned by Proview International Holdings of Hong Kong. Thus, the company contends, the sale is invalid and Proview continues to hold the trademark, at least in China if not worldwide.

Proview has also previously argued that because it has been in bankruptcy, its creditors actually hold the trademark and the sale was invalid because the creditors weren't consulted. A lower court in Hong Kong had already ruled that Apple had obtained the trademarks legally, though a provincial court in Shenzen where the case was first tried had sided with Proview, resulting in a short ban on iPad imports into China.

Proview is currently in liquidation, and may be using the trademark dispute as a last desperate move to pay off creditors, as Apple lawyers have alleged in court. The Chinese court has urged the two companies to try and reach a settlement, and Proview attorneys have indicated that progress is being made on that front, though previous statements from Proview have been viewed dubiously.

An Apple spokesperson continued to maintain the company's consistent comment on the matter, which has been and continues to be that Apple bought the trademark to the name iPad from Proview legally, and that the company is simply refusing to honor its agreements.

For its part, Proview's US attorneys have indicated that they might appeal the dismissal. Proview attorney Christopher Evans said in a statement that the company is "looking forward to presenting the facts in the case to the appellate court," and added that the decision to dismiss was "not based on the merits of the case." [via The Wall Street Journal]

by MacNN Staff




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