Proview Technology is up at arms with Apple in China, with the firm belief that Apple is in violation of its trademark on the iPad name. Proview and Apple entered into an agreement in 2009 which essentially transferred the iPad trademark to Apple, though there is apparently some disagreement as to just what that transfer entailed.
This disagreement has led to several court cases in China, and today a lower court in Shanghai has ruled in favor of Apple, denying Proview Technology’s injunction against Apple’s iPad tablet. The injunction would have halted sales of Apple’s tablet in the metropolitan Chinese city, including at Apple’s high-profile Shanghai stores. A ruling against Apple in Shanghai would have been a detrimental blow to Apple, as Shanghai continues to be one of Apple’s largest retail markets. For now, at least, sales of Apple’s iPad tablets will be allowed to continue in the city after China pulled them from some retail outlets, including China’s Amazon Service.
The Shanghai court also ruled to defer weighing in on the trademark infringement case against Apple, an issue that will be taken up at a higher court in the Guangdong province, with a court date set for February 29th. Reuters has indicated that the battle in Guangdong will have a much more significant impact on Apple’s continued operations in China, as a ruling against Apple in Guangdong would likely result in a ripple effect whereby pending cases in lesser courts across China would likely follow suit.
Proview’s move to pursue mass-litigation against Apple makes sense when you consider their current financial situation. The company faces delisting from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange unless they can provide Hong Kong with a viable financial rescue plan. Proview defaulted and was taken to court by creditors it owed money to in China, creditors which actually owned Proview when Apple and Proview agreed to the trademark transfer terms back in 2009. A recent report suggests Proview is pushing for Apple to resolve this dispute by settling outside of court via a large settlement package, which could reach in excess of $2 Billion.
It is unclear at this point whether Apple will settle with Proview, or whether the company will wait for a ruling from Guangdong, though we should know more within the week.