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'Exploitative' Proview slammed by trademark judge ... in 2010

Court said monitor biz deliberately tried to injure Apple

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Taiwanese monitor maker Proview’s refusal to honour a deal to sell Apple the IPAD trademark in China smacks of a conspiracy driven by greed, according to a Hong Kong judge who ruled in Apple’s favour back in 2010.

The Hong Kong High Court documents from back then, published by All Things Digital, reveal that Judge Hon Poon had severe misgivings about Proview’s business dealings.

The crux of the monitor firm’s argument is that although Apple struck a deal with its Taiwanese affiliate, Proview Electronics, for the trademark rights, the affiliate is a legally separate entity to Proview Shenzhen, which owns the same trademark for the People’s Republic.

The Hong Kong judge agreed with Apple and its trademark purchaser IP Application that Proview had breached the original agreement, reserving particular ire for Proview boss Yang Rongshan who apparently knew exactly what was going on.

Here, the conduct of all the defendants demonstrates that they have combined together with the common intention of injuring Apple and IP Application by acting in breach of the agreement. Proview Holdings, Proview Electronics and Proview Shenzhen, all clearly under Yang’s control, have refused to take any steps to ensure compliance with the agreement so that the China trademarks are properly assigned or transferred to IP Application. Instead, they attempted to exploit the situation as a business opportunity for the Proview Group by seeking an amount of $10,000,000 from Apple.

The court documents certainly give weight to the view of Yang and his companies as washed up and looking to squeeze every last drop out of Apple. The firm actually went bankrupt in 2010 just months before the Hong Kong case was heard, and will be delisted from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange if it doesn’t provide a “viable resumption proposal” by June.

As if that wasn’t enough, pictures emerged this week depicting Proview’s Shenzhen offices as a heap of decaying and virtually deserted buildings that look more like the set of a bad zombie movie than the high-tech HQ of a leading monitor and LED lighting company.

That said, and apparently in contrast to its fortunes elsewhere, the firm appears to be doing rather well in facing down the might of fondleslab purveyor Apple after winning a Chinese courtroom battle over the IPAD trademark last December.

Some iPad devices have already been seized from retailers’ shelves in China and Proview has gone for the jugular in reportedly asking for imports and exports from the country be stopped.

Such a move would halt global supply lines for Apple – given its iPad is made in China. ®

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