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Apple and Proview in talks to end IPAD dispute

Report suggests "big gap" between parties over settlement amount

Apple iPad 2

After several months, a few false dawns and lots of waiting, the trademark stand-off between Apple and Proview over the use of the IPAD name in China may finally be nearing an end, according to new reports which claim settlement talks have begun.

Xie Xianghui, a lawyer with failed monitor and LED lighting biz Proview, is quoted by several sources including China Daily as claiming the two firms are currently trying to reach agreement over how much the fruity toy maker should pay Proview to end the dispute.

"The Guangdong High People's Court is trying to mediate this, and both parties are trying tonegotiate and come to a settlement," Xie is quoted as saying, although he refused to disclose the sums of money which are being discussed.

Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

The long-running case revolves around a pretty simple dispute: Apple claims it bought the rights to the IPAD name fair and square from Proview Taiwan in 2009 for just £35,000, but Proview claims that its Shenzhen affiliate is the only company that had the legal right to sell the name for use in China.

Proview has since declared war on Apple in its back yard, by filing a lawsuit in the US alleging it was deceived into selling the rights after Cupertino hid its role in the purchase by using an intermediary firm registered in the UK.

Proview won the original case in December last year and the judges in the appeal hearing are currently considering Apple’s plea to reverse the decision, but they’ve already urged both sides to settle out of court.

There is a fair amount of pressure on Apple to settle given it wants to start flogging its latest fondleslab to the lucrative Chinese market as soon as possible, but it also doesn’t want to invite similar cases in the future by appearing to give in too easily.

For Proview, there lies a potentially lucrative windfall which could help it pay off its debtors, which include state-owned banking giant Bank of China.

The smart money is on a home win for the firm, with government officials even publically declaring that the trademark belongs to the bankrupt Shenzhen Proview Technology.

However, it could still be some while before an agreement is reached. China Daily quoted Xie as saying: “Right now, there is still a big gap between the two sides on the settlement amount.” ®

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