By Maurits Elen
As with other companies that have seen their logos and trademarks hijacked by Chinese companies, Apple now risks losing control over selling its iPad tablets in China, after a Shenzhen court ruled the multinational tech-giant guilty of copyright infringement.
A small company named Proview Electronics, which registered the iPad trademark in China before Apple, now seeks to exclude the Silicon Valley company from selling its tablet on the Chinese market.
Proview registered Apple’s trademarks ”iPad” and ”IPAD” in 2001, which it used to gain a larger market share for its own tablet. After an unsuccesfull attempt to do so, Proview then had to contend with liquidity problems.
Between 2000 and 2004 Proview registered the iPad trademark in several countries and regions, including China, South-Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia and the European Union.
In 2010 a subsidiary of Proview in Taiwan sold the trademark rights to UK-based ”IP Applications” for a reported sum of 35,000 pounds, before then being quietly sold to Apple. But although Apple signed a contract for the trademark rights, the court ruled that it had done so only through Proview’s auxiliary and not through Proview’s Hong Kong-based holding company, resulting in a legally non-binding agreement.
In the meantime, Proview has already filed a lawsuit against Apple to ban it selling its products in the Guangdong cities of Shenzhen and Huizhou. Xie Xianghui, a lawyer working for Proview, stated the following:
“”Because Apple is a very influential company, no one wants to think they are being unreasonable. But in this case, they really are being unreasonable.”
”We are starting with these two cities, and if we are successful in getting iPad sales stopped, we will consider going after Apple resellers elsewhere in China.”
According to research firm Analysys International, Apple’s iPad had a 74 percent market share in the 2nd quarter of 2011.
The court ruling news comes at a hectic time for Apple, who is currently also engaged in a number of global patent battles against Samsung Electronics and HTC. Apple hasn’t responded to the court ruling yet, but is still in a position to appeal the court’s decision.