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US court rejects Proview suit

By Ji Beibei (Global Times)

08:09, May 10, 2012

Proview said yesterday the rejection of its complaint by a court in the US "won't affect the process or outcome of its trademark dispute with Apple Inc in the Chinese mainland," after a California court dismissed Friday a trademark complaint by the Taiwan affiliate of Proview Electronics Co against Apple Inc over the iPad name.

"These are two separate complaints, one involving the Taiwan affiliate of Proview accusing Apple of tricking it into selling the 'iPad' trademark for less than it might have in 2009 and the other related to trademark ownership dispute over iPad in the Chinese mainland," Xie Xianghui, a lawyer representing Proview, told the Global Times yesterday, noting that the mainland lawsuit will not be affected by the US dismissal of the Taiwan unit's complaint.

Proview Technology's Taiwan affiliate registered "iPad" as a trademark in several countries as early as 2000. In 2009, Apple bought the Taiwan affiliate's rights at a price of some $55,000, but according to Proview, the deal did not cover a trademark transfer for the mainland.

Proview has sued Apple in both the US and China. It also sought a ban on iPad sales in the mainland.

A Shenzhen court ruled in favor of Proview on December 5, leading to some retailers taking iPad off their shelves in some Chinese cities for a period of time.

On February 29, the Higher People's Court of Guangdong Province accepted an appeal by Apple against the ruling. Most recently, the two parties went into discussions to settle the case outside the court.

Also yesterday Apple released a list of 30 countries and regions where it will begin sales of its new iPad. However, China is absent from the list, a decision believed to be affected somewhat by the trademark dispute.

Though an early end to the dispute will allow Apple to sell its products in the mainland market, its second largest, as early as possible, analysts doubt Apple would bow to a $3 billion transfer price asked by Proview.

China is becoming an increasingly important market for the California-based Apple. According to Apple last month, its revenue in China hit a record $7.9 billion for the first quarter of 2012, compared with total revenue of $13 billion for the whole year of 2011.

If Apple loses the case, the company would not be able sell iPad in the mainland and will need to compensate Proview for earlier sales, Zhang Zhifeng, a lawyer with the Beijing Hengdu Law Firm, told the Global Times yesterday.

"We cannot predict the result (of our lawsuit), but we wish to win," Xie told the Global Times, noting that Proview has noticed a mounting willingness in Apple to close a deal as early as possible.

Apple could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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