A Taiwanese flat-screen company called Proview, says that it still owns the “IPAD” trademark for Mainland China, after selling off trademarks for other regions of the globe to a company associated with Apple in 2006 for $55,000.
Proview – which is struggling financially and whose CEO is openly admitting it needs money (its Shenzhen, China operation has had its assets seized apparently) – is claiming that when it sold the IPAD trademarks to a company called IP Application Development, which was apparently buying the trademarks for Apple, that the sale of the “global trademark” did not include two trademarks in Mainland China. Proview also registered trademarks in the EU, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, all which we’re assuming are now in the hands of Apple (Apple purchased the US trademark from Fujitsu).
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Apple has sued Proview, however, demanding that those two trademarks be transfered to it. According to the Financial Times, “in pending cases in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, Apple [has] won preliminary injunctions to stop Proview from selling off the IPAD name.” That said, the FT also points out that :
…according to online trademark databases, the ownership of the EU trademark for IPAD changed from Proview to Apple this year. Two IPAD trademarks registered in China are still shown as belonging to Proview.
Proview’s chairman, Yang Rongshan, told the FT, “We will sue them for damages in China and in the US.” China began selling the iPad in China last month in its Apple Stores and just yesterday launched its fully localized Chinese website, with the iPad starting at RMB3,988 or about $585.
Apple told the FT that it wouldn’t comment while legal action was in place.
UPDATE: Forbes made a pretty funny/clever observation about “IP Application Development” the company/front Apple apparently used to get the iPad trademarks: IP Application Development = I-P-A-D, get it? Clever Mr. Jobs, clever.