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Proview sues Apple in US, accuses it of fraud over iPad name

updated 09:15 pm EST, Thu February 23, 2012

Proview gambles on US lawsuit strategy

Proview is now known to have quietly sued Apple in the US last week over the iPad trademark dispute. It claimed in a Santa Clara court that Apple's decision to use a shell company, IP Application Development Limited (IPADL), was allegedly fraudulent. By masking its own involvement, Apple was trying to "defraud and induce" Proview into signing a trademark handover deal that it might not otherwise have agreed to, according to the lawsuit.

Apple, under its IPADL wing, is believed to have informed Proview that it wanted the iPad trademark as an abbreviation of the shell company's name and promised that it wouldn't directly compete with Proview.

The plaintiff was hoping for an unspecified amount in financial damages as well as a ban on Apple's use of the name. It also wanted the court to revoke the earlier trademark deal, an unusual step that wouldn't help cases back in China.

Whether or not Proview has a case isn't clear. While IPADL didn't directly reveal Apple as its parent, it's a common practice among companies to acquire trademarks under such names to reduce the likelihood that the media or competitors find out ahead of time. Proview isn't yet known to have done due diligence in verifying the claims, and by the time Apple had been acquiring the trademarks (in 2009) the iMac clone Proview had been developing as the i-Pad had ceased to exist as the firm had since moved on to displays.

The attempt at an American dispute had been filed days before Shanghai rejected an attempted ban in that city. Although it hadn't dropped an attempt to claim damages, the verdict along with recently publicized evidence may make it difficult for Proview to get a legal victory.

Short-term cash is widely thought to be Proview's ultimate goal. It never fully recovered from the late 2008 economic crash and has declared bankruptcy. Under a deadline to reorganize, it may have trouble staying afloat without a surge in funds. [via Wall Street Journal]



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. moofpup

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2007

    +17

    Right!

    Good luck with that!

  1. FreeRange

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2009

    +11

    I demand swift Chinese justice!

    Have the head of Proview kneel down and then the bullet to the back of the head for attempted grand larceny and fraud.

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +18

    A Hah

    And, there we go. They've finally admitted why it is they started suing in the first place.

    Sure, it's possible that someone who wasn't authorized to sold their trademark, but the reality almost certainly is that they sold for $55,000 a trademark that's now on tens of millions of devices, and whoever's trying to extract what the company's worth is feeling entirely burned.

    After all, if Apple didn't legitimately buy the trademark through their shell company, ProView couldn't very well complain that the buyer was hiding behind a shell company. Either it was sold legitimately or it wasn't--you can't really have it both ways.

    Of course, if Apple had negotiated outright with them and they'd asked for $10M, it's entirely possible Apple would have just called the thing an iTab or iSlate or iSlab or something else equally silly-sounding that within a couple months would seem as completely natural as iPad and MacBook do now (both of which sounded ridiculous on first launch).

  1. Bobfozz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2008

    +13

    Looks to me that...

    Proview has admitted that Apple honestly did deal with them and got the trademark. But now they claim fraud when buying this way is a common practice. And I think Makosuke has a point... Apple could just as easily named it something else. As I recall some big shot at Proview has his John Hancock on the deal agreement!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. godrifle

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2006

    -36

    Underhanded

    If what ProView asserts, that's a pretty underhanded approach by Apple.

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Mar 2004

    +12

    Not underhanded.

    Standard practice is for deep pockets to hide their identity whenever possible when negotiating purchases.

  1. global.philosopher

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2010

    +9

    Obviously have money to burn

    Somehow trying to gain crediability back in China by saying...."Hey we are suing them in a country that actually respects intellectual property".

    Only winner here is lawyers...Apple has no case to answer.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Apr 2011

    -3

    Good time to be a lawyer

    your comment

  1. Peter Bonte

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -7

    Apple does compete with Proview

    "... promised that it wouldn't directly compete with Proview." Here they do have a case i think, the Proview iPad was an all-in-one computer and Apple is definitely competing in that space even do the iPad is not.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007

    +1

    Proview is apparently

    and literally going for broke here. I'm not entirely surprised they have backing from China banks, since a win would be good for their investments in Proview.

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