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Apple’s China problems could roll over into US

Regular readers of Kitguru will already know that Apple are facing a potential customs ban in China over a trademark dispute for the iPad name. The problem now looks as if it could expand into the US territory.

A representative for Proview in China said “I think in the future we will sue Apple in the U.S. We are looking to choose between three different U.S. law firms.”

Proview are taking legal action against Apple in China over the iPad trademark. Proview claim that the UK company who purchased the rights from their Taiwan subsidiary had promised not to use the trademark to compete against Proview products in China.

A December ruling in China rejected Apple’s claims to the trademark. Authorities have launched investigations into iPad sales which could hit Apple hard, and even end up in a customs ban of the Apple tablet.

Proview took the iPad trademark in 2001 and is demanding that Apple stop sales of the iPad product in China, removing the product from shelves and the online store.

The company have decided to extend the lawsuit to the US because Apple allegedly established a ‘fake company’ to acquire the iPad trademark for 35,000 pounds sterling.

The U.K based company called IP Application said they would not use the iPad trademark to compete against Proview products and later sold the iPad trademark rights to Apple. Apple say they bought the iPad trademarks in 10 countries from Proview through Taiwan. Proview say that the iPad trademarks for mainland China were not officially transferred, because Proview’s Shenzhen company did not agree to sell them.

Proview started their own iPad product design in 1998, with iPAD standing for ‘Personal Access Device’. It was a Windows computer and a part of the Proview iFamily line. The iPad device failed in the market according to the company founder Yang Rongshan.

Proview had to close in 2008 due to a global financial crisis although they are keen to make a comeback.

Yang said “We are following Chinese law to maintain our rights. We don’t have a figure in mind for what Apple should pay. The 10 billion yuan ($1.58 billion) figure the media has reported is not among our company’s demands.”

Apple still claim that they have rights to the iPad trademark saying that Proview are failing to honour their agreement with them.

Kitguru says: This could get messy.

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