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Proview Threatens Apple With $2 Billion Suit Over iPad Trademark

Proview Technology is threatening to take Apple to court to seek $2 billion in compensation, because the company says it owns the iPad name in China.

CNET reports:

"'Right now we are selecting from three American law firms to sue Apple in the United States for $2 billion in compensation,' Hejun Vanguard Group chairman Li Su said at a press conference today, according to TechCrunch and other sources. Hejun Vanguard is a consulting firm working with creditors to restructure Proview, which has been forced to file for bankruptcy."

"Responding to allegations that Proview is trying to strong-arm Apple just to get out of its financial quagmire, Proview CEO Yang Rongshan defended his actions."

"'We own it [the iPad trademark] in China. If you were in my position... you would try to protect your rights,' Yang told reporters at the press conference, noted The Times of India."

As we reported, Apple bought the naming rights in 2010. All Things D released a series of documents that support Apple's position. Dow Jones looked at those documents and concluded Proview had agreed to "transfer to Apple all rights, 'powers and benefits belonging or accrued to the [iPad] trade marks, including the right to sue for past infringements and passing off.'" The agreement, reports Dow Jones, included trademarks in South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and China.

Apple paid about $55,000 for the trademark. But the sale, Proview argues, was agreed to by a subsidiary and it "won a ruling from a mainland Chinese court in December that it was not bound by that sale. Apple appealed and a hearing is scheduled for Feb. 29."

The Associated Press reports that despite all that evidence, this is likely headed toward a settlement.

"My gut reaction is that many of these activities really could be seen as pre-settlement brinksmanship," David Wolf, a technology marketing consultant in Beijing told the AP. "Proview's motive is money, not to shut down Apple."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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