A trademark dispute between Apple and a small Chines company has resulted in the seizure of dozens of the Apple iPads for trademark infringement. The crackdown comes as Apple products are quickly gaining popularity in the country.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the seizures in Shijiazhuang were prompted by a complaint filed by Proview Technology, a company based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. It claims to be the rightful owner of the iPad trademark in China and has thwarted attempts by Apple to secure its own trademark in China.
Apple’s first setback came in December 2010, when a court in Shenzhen unexpectedly rejected a lawsuit by Apple claiming it was entitled to use the iPad name. Since then, Proview Technology has filed complaints throughout China, urging authorities to prohibit Apple from selling or marketing its tablet.
According to the LA Times, Proview International Holding, Proview Technology’s parent company, registered trademarks for the name IPAD in Europe, Mexico, China and other parts of Asia starting in 2000. It had intended to launch its own hand-held tablet, but that plan never came to fruition.
Instead, Proview International sold the IPAD trademark to a company linked to Apple for $55,000 in 2006. Apple mistakenly believed it had obtained the rights to China as well. However, it later learned that the trademark was still owned by Proview Technology.
Since then, Proview Technology has attempted force Apple to fork over a significant sum for the trademark. Apple, meanwhile, seems content to fight it out in the Chinese court system, at least for now. It has appealed the decision of the Shenzhen court.
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As this case demonstrates, it can often require a significant amount of legal legwork to secure a trademark overseas. Therefore, it is imperative to consult with an attorney experienced in foreign intellectual property concerns.
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