Apple’s iPad trademark tactics in China ‘unusual,’ say experts

“Proview Electronics, the firm trying to stop Apple Inc from using the iPad name in China, has a plausible claim over the unusual methods Apple used to conceal its identity when attempting to acquire Proview’s trademarks, according to several legal experts,” Dan Levine reports for Reuters.

“But Apple also has some strong defenses against a lawsuit Proview filed last week in California – including the argument that Proview cannot sue Apple, but can only sue the corporation that actually bought the trademarks, the experts said,” Levine reports. “Proview extended the battle to American shores last week by accusing Apple of fraud in a lawsuit filed in a California state court. According to the complaint, Apple’s lawyers formed an opaque special purpose entity to buy the iPad trademark. They also sent an email with the allegedly false promise that the entity would not be competing with Proview, the suit said.”

Levine reports, “Large companies often use special purpose entities to conceal their identities in trademark negotiations, for fear that the price will skyrocket if they are revealed. But naming the special purpose entity after the product is unusual, said Martin Schwimmer, a trademark attorney based in New York. ‘I have never encountered this level of ruse,’ Schwimmer said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, puleeze. We haven’t seen this much bullshit shoveled about over such a non-story since the oh-so-excrutiating “iPhone trademark battle” with Cisco that Steve Jobs won without even bothering to think about it for more than half a second.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple iPad trademark case in Shanghai suspended; Proview injunction rejected – February 24, 2012
Proview sues Apple in the US, mass hilarity ensues – February 24, 2012
Proview files lawsuit in California against Apple over iPad trademark – February 24, 2012
Chinese court says Apple can continue selling iPads in Shanghai – February 23, 2012

25 Comments

  1. I don’t get it. If you sell the rights to the trademark, you surrender the right to use it to the acquirer. And the seller of the trademark by disposing of the right to employ the trademark deprives himself of the right to sue the acquirer since by definition he has sold that right for monetary compensation. The monetary compensation places a monetary value of depriving himself of that right which was arrived at arm’s length negotiation. What more is there to argue? There was no coercion involved.

    1. The problem is, Proview is actually several companies all named ‘Proview’. The Proview Apple (or IPAD) bought the naming rights from was the one in Taiwan. Now the Proview in mainland China is claiming that the one in Taiwan never had the right to sell the name, and Apple is now infringing.

      The problem with that theory, as stated by the Hong Kong courts, is that all the entities named “Proview” are owed by the same individual, and routinely operate in concert. Therefore if Taiwan didn’t own the rights, it would have been trivial to get the name reassigned to that branch, but that never happened. So Proview is essentially claiming Apple breached copyright, because they didn’t do what they needed to do to fulfill their contract obligations.

    2. Not necessarily. If the products do not compete, then the seller can in fact maintain his right to use the name within the markets and regions it own’s it via a lifetime license agreement that is very often a supplemental agreement to a name sale.

    1. I don’t know if this was covered on another thread, but I thought the I-PAD bore more than a passing resemblance to the original iMac, handle in the CRT case and all.

      PROview has a lot of gall suing Apple over anything to do with iPad.

      1. Yes, of course it’s a PC-version of the iMac. This is exactly why Apple should sue all of those small copycats, because in a dozen years they can bite you in the butt. Remember when people criticized Apple for suing Pshyster?

  2. The *only* reason that Proview is raising such a stink about the ‘iPad’ issue is because they are pissed off about selling the rights to the trademark so cheaply, in the first place.

    Apple lawyers used a proxy company that bought the trademark for Asia, on Apple’s behalf. When Proview finally realized that Apple was the company that wanted the trademark, they decided to cry ‘foul’ in order to extort more money from Apple.

    Typical.

    Chinese leeches.

    1. Well, another really good reason is Proview is in bankruptcy, is now indebted to and controlled by Bank of China and another bank which has to approve any decisions they make and actually calls the shots on what they do. The banks likely see Apple as a chance to recoup any monies they have lost in Proview and most likely are very powerful in China, and maybe have a lot of power in local courts. A lot is somewhat murky here, to say the least.

  3. Shill buyers have been around since the beginning of mercantile societies.

    Someone is always trying to buy as a middleman and sell somewhere else at a higher price, even if the end buyer sets up the middleman for the purpose.

    The lawyer who made the comment ‘I have never encountered this level of ruse’ hasn’t been in the real business world or in it very long.

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