By Cal Widdall
An audible sigh of relief was breathed by crazed iPad fans across the country yesterday after a Shanghai court rejected Proview’s request for a ban on sales, and suspended the company’s current lawsuit over the iPad trademark.
During the hearing in Shanghai, Proview produced one of their conveniently named ‘Internet Personal Access Devices’ in court, which conveniently look exactly like Apple’s tablet computer uber-device. And by “exactly”, we mean not-resembling-the-iPad-in-the-slightest.
For those who have had their head in the iClouds over the past couple of months, the basic facts of the case are as follows:
- 2001: Proview register the trademarks iPad and IPAD on the Chinese mainland in an unsuccessful bid to increase it’s tablet market share
- 2001-4: Proview registers the iPad trademark in several more countries and regions, including China, South-Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia and the European Union.
- 2010: A subsidiary of Proview in Taiwan sells the trademark rights to UK-based ”IP Applications” for a reported sum of 35,000 pounds, which then quietly sells them on to Apple.
- December 2011: A Shenzhen court rules that although Apple signed a contract for the trademark rights, the court decided 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.
- 2012: Apple iPads are taken off the shelves in Hebei province
Guangdong Higher People’s Court, in southern China’s Guangdong Province, is due to hear an appeal by Apple next Wednesday against a lower court’s decision that favored Proview in the trademark dispute.
Until that decision, the Shanghai court said, there was a lack of evidence over whether Apple had infringed the iPad trademark by selling its tablet computers on the mainland.
We’ll keep you updated when that verdict comes in, but right now we’re off to see what up-and-coming foreign technology names we can buy the Chinese trademarks to.
Though honestly, Apple’s problems could be solved if they arbitrarily change one letter of their product name, which is the way trademark issues are usually solved in China. We’d go with the iPat.