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Apple, Proview in talks to settle iPad trademark dispute

By Wang Jiamei (Global Times)

08:04, May 07, 2012

Apple Inc and Proview Technology (Shenzhen) Co have started seeking an out-of-court settlement over the ownership of the iPad trademark, a lawyer representing Proview told the Global Times yesterday.

The Higher People's Court of Guangdong Province is facilitating the negotiation.

"The amount of the claim is a key problem, and because of the difference in the amount claimed and offered, the mediation process has been slow," Xie Xianghui, a lawyer from Grandall Law Firm who is representing Proview, told the Global Times.

Xie refused to disclose the specific amount of Proview's claim, but said that it is based on a reasonable calculation taking into account many factors such as the administrative penalties Apple may face, the cost it will incur to change a trademark and the losses it may suffer when giving up the usage of iPad trademark.

Besides the lawsuit, Proview was using other means to put pressure on Apple. In March, Proview issued an open letter demanding vendors and dealers in the Chinese mainland to stop selling iPad products. The company had also requested Chinese customs offices to halt the imports and exports of iPad products.

In addition, a senior government official was viewed as backing Proview in public remarks made in April, Xie mentioned yesterday.

Fu Shuangjian, deputy director of the State Administration For Industry and Commerce, said last month that Shenzhen Proview currently is the legitimate registered owner of the iPad trademark, and the transfer must be approved by the administration's trademark office.

Apple could not be reached for comment yesterday. In a statement released in March, it said that Proview has been misleading Chinese courts in a bid to get more money from Apple because the company owes a lot of money.

Xie confirmed that Proview does owe eight local banks some $400 million. "We wish to reach an agreement with Apple as soon as possible, and so does Apple, we believe," he said.

"Usually, a court decision shall be made if the two parties fail to reach a settlement out of court within two to four weeks, but as this case involves a foreign party, the civil arbitration process could take several months," You Yunting, a partner at Shanghai-based DeBund Law Office, told the Global Times yesterday.

"Trademark infringement compensation is calculated based on the owner's loss and infringer's gain from the trademark, and the actual value of the iPad product lies in its technology rather than its name, so the infringement compensation for the trademark should not be high," You said. "What the two parties are discussing is actually the transfer price of the trademark."

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