A Chinese firm involved in a trademark row with Apple Inc over the iPad name is preparing for talks with the US technology giant, the Chinese firm’s lawyer said yesterday, raising hopes for a settlement.
Electronics firm Proview Technology (Shenzhen) (深圳唯冠) says it owns the Chinese rights to the “iPad” trademark and has sought to block sales of Apple’s iconic tablet computer in China, as well as imports and exports of the device.
Last year, Apple took the firm to a Chinese court, claiming trademark infringement, but the court ruled the US company lacked “supporting facts and evidence” for its claim.
Apple is now appealing the case, but debt-laden Proview, which makes computer monitors, has since itself filed trademark lawsuits against Apple in China and is threatening to sue the technology giant in the US for US$2 billion.
“We are now preparing for negotiations,” said Proview’s lawyer, Xie Xianghui (謝湘輝). “The court cases will continue until we reach an agreement.”
He declined to give further details, but he added Apple had told Proview it had “peaceful intentions.”
Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Analysts expect the companies will reach an out-of-court settlement.
“Apple has so much cash, they will look at the situation, they will look at how their profits are going to be impacted, and if it looks like it is going to be significant, they will just pay and take care of it,” said Ben Cavender, a senior analyst at China Market Research Group.
A Shanghai court is scheduled today to hear a case by Proview against Apple, Xie said.
Apple’s law firm on Monday warned Proview of possible legal action over “defamatory statements and unlawful actions” aimed at interfering with Apple’s business, according to a letter seen by reporters.
The letter to Proview chief executive Yang Rongshan (楊榮山) said Proview had made “false and misleading” statements to the public regarding the case.
In another lawsuit, a Chinese court last week ordered an electronics chain store to stop selling Apple iPads at a branch in the southern city of Huizhou, according to the GH Law Firm which represented Proview.
Proview, based in China’s boomtown of Shenzhen, has also filed complaints with local governments in several Chinese cities, resulting in seizures of iPads in at least two places.
The Taiwanese affiliate of Proview Technology (Shenzhen) registered “iPad” as a trademark in several countries, including China, as early as 2000 — years before Apple began selling the product.
The US giant subsequently bought the rights for the global trademark, but Proview Technology (Shenzhen) claims its Taiwanese affiliate had no right to sell the Chinese rights.
Both the companies are units of Hong Kong-listed Proview International Holdings (唯冠國際), whose shares have been suspended from trading since August 2010.
Yang last week denied he was trying to get compensation from Apple to bail out his cash-strapped company.