Wed, Feb 29, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Proview seeking rights to iPad

ALLEGED FRAUD:The firm said that Apple had intentionally misled it by buying the trademark through a special-purpose company that hid that it was acting for Apple

AP, Shanghai, China

Proview Electronics Co (唯冠電子) said it was now seeking to regain worldwide rights to the iPad name and was suing Apple Inc for alleged fraud and unfair competition, hoping to have a 2009 sale of the trademark ruled void.

The Taiwan-based maker of LED lights said in a release late on Monday that it had amended its lawsuit filed earlier this month in Santa Clara, California’s Superior Court.

Apart from having the trademark sale voided, it also is seeking unspecified compensation, a share of Apple’s profits from alleged “unfair competition” and an order for Apple to stop using the trademarks.

Apple had no immediate comment.

Proview said that it owned the rights to the iPad trademark in China.

A Shanghai court last week rejected its demand for an injunction preventing Apple from selling the iPad.

It also postponed hearing the case pending a decision by a court in China’s Guangdong Province, where Proview’s Chinese factory is based. The Guangdong High Court is due to convene today for an appeal by Apple of a lower court judgement against the US company’s claim to the trademark.

It is unclear if Proview’s latest legal maneuver is driven by the expectation of a favorable ruling by the Guangdong High Court or by its desire to push Apple for an out-of-court settlement — an option Proview’s lawyers have said would be possible.

Apple has given no sign it would be willing to settle. It contends Proview failed to transfer ownership of the Chinese iPad trademark as agreed in the 2009 deal.

Ma Dongxiao (馬東曉), a lawyer who is representing Proview in China, but is not involved in the US case, said yesterday the dispute in China centered only on ownership and infringement of the iPad trademark, not on the validity of the 2009 deal.

In its release, Proview said its amended complaint in the US case was meant to provide details of Apple’s alleged “fraudulent actions.”

“Among the many allegations in the US complaint are fraud by intentional misrepresentation, fraud by concealment, fraudulent inducement and unfair competition,” Proview said.

If the 2009 deal is ruled void, iPad trademarks for the EU, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam would revert back to Proview Taiwan, it said.

Proview, once a major computer monitor manufacturer, launched its own version of the iPAD, or Internet Personal Access Device, in 2000, but it was not a market hit. Apple launched its popular iPad in 2010.

Proview contends Apple intentionally misled it when it bought iPad trademarks through a special purpose company called IP Application Development Ltd that concealed it was acting on Apple’s behalf.

Experts in the high-tech field say such tactics are common given the secrecy surrounding new product launches, especially Apple’s.

However, Proview said IP Application Development told it that it wanted the trademark because it was an abbreviation of its name.

“While some technology companies create special purpose vehicles in order to obtain trademarks, in this case the sole function of Apple’s special purpose vehicle was intentional misrepresentation, and an effort to fraudulently induce Proview Taiwan into a sale of the iPad trademarks,” Proview spokesman Cal Kenney said in the release.

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