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Chinese company demands $38m, 'apology' from Apple

Convoluted iPad trademark battle grinds on

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A Chinese trademark-infringement case against Apple's right to use the name "iPad" that has been rumbling along since October 2010 has taken another turn: the Shenzhen company involved in the imbroglio now wants Cupertino to be levied a $38m fine – and it wants an apology.

"We are asking the court to order Apple to stop selling and marketing the iPad in China. We also demand an apology," Proview Technology Shenzhen's lawyer Xie Xianghui told China Daily.

The trademark case will be heard in a Shanghai court on February 22, and the Xicheng district branch of Beijing's market administrative authority is considering Proview Shenzhen's request that Apple be slapped with a 240 million yuan ($38m) fine.

As is often the case in international trademark matters, the case is a convoluted one. According to Xie, Proview Shenzhen registered the iPad trademark in 2001. An associated company, Proview Taiwan, sold the trademark to a UK company, IP Application Development Limited, in 2009 for £35,000 ($55,000), according to Guangdong's Nanfang Daily.

That UK company – which was founded right before the sale and is now listed by Level Business as a "dormant company" – then turned around and sold the iPad trademark to Apple for the princely sum of £10 ($16).

The wrinkle in the deal, according to China Daily, is that Proview Taiwan was not legally representing Proview Shenzen. Accordingly, when Apple attempted to transfer the trademark to the People's Republic of China in 2010, it was turned down by PRC authorities.

Apple sued in a Guangdong court and lost, but was granted the right to appeal – which Apple did.

An unnamed "insider" commenting on Proview's request for the $38m fine told China Daily that "other branches of the Beijing administration had listened to Xicheng's report" on the Shenzen company's allegations, "But many of us hold different opinions on whether it is Apple breaching Proview Shenzhen's rights or Proview Shenzhen dishonestly demanding compensation. We didn't reach consensus on the fine as well."

So this trademark-infringement mud-wrestling match keeps slogging on, unresolved. The Reg doubts if lawyer Xie will get his apology anytime soon. If ever. ®

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