Proview Technology (Shenzhen) Co (深圳唯冠) said a “big gap” remains between it and Apple Inc after the US company offered compensation to settle their dispute over ownership of the iPad trademark in China.
Apple proposed an amount of money to resolve the legal case as part of the mediation process being directed by the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong, Roger Xie (謝湘輝), a lawyer for Proview, said by telephone yesterday. He declined to disclose the amount or say when Apple made the offer.
“The Guangdong Higher People’s court is trying to mediate this and both parties are trying to negotiate and come to a settlement,” Xie said. “Right now, there is still a big gap between the two sides on the amount of the settlement.”
The debt-ridden Chinese company owes banks about US$400 million, the Global Times newspaper reported yesterday, adding pressure on Proview to make a deal.
Proview Technology is a unit of Hong Kong-listed Proview International Holdings Ltd (唯冠國際), whose shares have been suspended from trading since 2010.
Carolyn Wu, a spokeswoman for Apple in Beijing, declined to comment on Xie’s remarks.
Proview Technology’s Taiwanese affiliate registered “iPad” as a trademark in several countries, including China, as early as 2000 — years before Apple began selling its product.
The US company subsequently bought the Taiwanese affiliate’s rights in 2009 — but Proview claims the deal did not include the trademark in China.
Proview has sued Apple in both the US and Shanghai, but a court in the eastern Chinese city decided against proceeding with the case.
Proview has also sought bans on iPad sales in China and blocks on imports into and exports out of the country.
On Feb. 29, the Guangdong court heard Apple’s appeal of a lower court ruling last year that Proview owned the iPad trademark in China.
China is second only to the US in demand for Apple products and is expected become the first in the not too distant future. However, the US company has faced criticism over its labor practices in the country.
Independent investigators uncovered workplace abuses, including forced overtime, in an audit of Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團), the Fair Labor Association said in March.