Proview creditor Bank of China may push to settle with Apple over iPad trademark

Proview creditor Bank of China may push to settle with Apple over iPad trademark

Apple’s fight for the rights to the iPad trademark in China saw a new development today as Proview revealed that the Bank of China is one creditor that is currently managing the firm.

The Bank of China and Minsheng Bank were revealed to have “controlled” the company since March 2009, according to Proview chairman Yang Rongshan, who last week demanded “proper” compensation from Apple for the trademark.

News of the involvement of creditors is likely a positive development for Apple and it could see the company pushed towards making a settlement, as Hong Kong based trademark lawyer Eugene Low told told Business Week:

Right now, the most valuable asset of Proview Group is the iPad trademark registration in China. Assuming the creditors have control of the affairs of Proview Shenzhen, it might be in their best interest to get a settlement as quickly as possible to monetize the Proview assets.

The banks were appointed by a court to lead a reorganisation of the company after it defaulted on loans. Proview had previously been a top ten maker of computer screens, but it got into issues after posting losses of $375 million (HK$2.91 billion) in 2009, fueled by the US mortgage crisis.

Rongshan further explains that the ruling means that the company is unable to make agreements or sell assets without the approval of its creditors. Both banks confirmed to Business Week that they are Proview creditors, meaning that the two are now entangled in the ongoing dispute, which has seen retailers in some cities cease selling the iPad.

The complicated relationship is, Yang says, a key issue behind the dispute as, he claims, Apple failed to understand Proview’s relationship with its creditors and the court, and failed to gain the necessary approvals.

Apple says it purchased the trademark for $55,163 (£35,000) via UK-based firm IP Application Development. The company has evidence of emails that appear to show confirmation of the deal from Proview staff, too.

Last week Apple warned Proview that it would take action if the company continued to make statements about the legal case in the public domain. Apple appealed the 2010 decision that gave Proview legal ownership of the iPad trademark in China, the result of the appeal will be heard on 29 February.

BusinessWeek warns that, if the upcoming decision goes against Apple once again, court restrictions on the import and export of the product could have global implications, as the iPad is built in China.

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