Jul. 3 – Apple has paid a US$60 million settlement to Proview Technology (Shenzhen) for the rights to the iPad trademark in China. This follows an ongoing dispute between the two companies over the extent of Apple’s ownership of the trademark after it seemingly purchased the global iPad trademark from Proview Electronics (Taiwan) back in 2006.
What Apple failed to realize during the initial purchase was that the rights for the iPad trademark were not held by the Taiwanese branch of Proview, but rather by the Shenzhen branch. Once it realized its mistake, Apple tried unsuccessfully to apply for the trademark in China. Their appeal was rejected owing to the fact that Proview (Shenzhen) already owned the rights.
Apple then decided to sue Proview (Shenzhen) in an attempt to get the courts to override the trademark law, but Apple subsequently lost its case in December of 2011. Proview (Shenzhen) retaliated with a lawsuit of its own seeking an immediate halt to the sales of Apple’s iPads in China.
It seems that this legal battle finally reached a resolution yesterday with the Guangdong Provincial Higher People’s Court, who is handling the case, announcing the US$60 million settlement effectively allowing Apple to legally sell its iPads in the country. For Apple, this means greater expansion into the, as of yet, largely untapped Chinese market. Apple currently has only five official retail stores in China; three in Shanghai and two in Beijing.
However, despite the outcome of the recent settlement, Apple could still be in for a challenge. Apple began selling its iPads in China in 2010, while the legality of the usage of the iPad trademark was still in question. Proview could potentially sue Apple for damages due to intellectual copyright infringement it suffered during the time span that Apple was technically selling iPads without the ownership of the rights.
Regardless of the possibility of future court cases, Apple now has the right to expand its products even further into the China market – an area that reaped US$12.4 billion for the company in the first half of 2012 alone.
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