China iPad Saga: Apple throws down in Shanghai

A security guard tries to stop photographing the lawyers walking in a court house Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012 in Shanghai, China. The lawyer for a Chinese company suing Apple Inc. in China over its use of the iPad trademark indicated Tuesday that his client would be willing to discuss a settlement.

A Chinese Police Officer tries to prevent photography outside the Shanghai Court

Lawsuit time guys, this is the big one. Today Apple has begun its defence of the right to use the iPad moniker in China. Cupertino is up against struggling Chinese company Proview Technology who have recently filed for bankruptcy. If Proview pulls off a legal victory here, it could spell the end to their financial problems, If Apple loses, they will lose a huge market for the iPad, and there may be reprisals regarding production of the current iPad and future devices, it’s safe to say then that the stakes are incredibly high.

For a brief background to the lawsuit, click here. Now that you’ve read that, let’s get on with it.

Proview’s lawyer Xie Xianghui opened the proceedings by arguing that the sale of the iPad trademark to Apple in 2009 by Proview Taiwan was invalid. This is perhaps the only leg Proview has to stand on, Proview Taiwan sold the iPad trademark to a British company for $55,000 3 years ago. The next day that company sold it to Apple for $16 and then disappeared. Suspicious I know, that may or may not come back to bite Apple where it hurts. Proview refuses to accept that with that sale Apple took the right to the name iPad in mainland China.

Apple 0 – 1 Proview

Apple countered the first punch by saying that it was Proview who were in the wrong for failing to transfer the rights in mainland China when the rights were sold, thereby breaching the sales contract.

Apple 1 – 1 Proview

Apple also correctly noted that Proview has not marketed, produced, or sold its own IPAD (Internet Personal Access Device) for years, which could invalidate Proviews claim to the trademark. (For more info on the IPAD, click here). You’ll notice it looks distinctly like the iMac, something which may or may not come bite Proview where it hurts, as you can see, there’s a lot of hidden detail hanging in the balance in this case.

Apple 3 – 1 Proview (Apple scored 1 here for the blatant iMac rip off, you may or may not agree)

The hearing was adjourned after four hours when the judge ruled that both sides were consistently failing to observe court protocols, as the legal proceedings became a back-and-forth argument across the courtroom.

I fell over myself in amazement when I read that Proview had produced evidence in the court, a “flat, thin computer” in a cardboard box. Look at the picture below, now back at the description of the evidence, now back at the picture. Before this turns into an Old Spice advert, I’ll make my point, the computer below is not flat or thin. And the computer produced in court, was not an IPAD.

Apple 4 – 1 Proview

Apple refuted the idea that the release of the iPad, was affecting sales of the IPAD, because the IPAD was released 10 years before the iPad. If the product hasn’t done well after 10 years, then maybe, just maybe, it might be time to call it a day.

Apple 5 – 1 Proview

Apple also argued that stopping iPad sales in China would be devastating to Apple’s revenue, and also China itself. The tablet is so popular, Apple can’t make them fast enough. The iPad also brings revenue to the government and provides jobs for people, Apple claimed “we have to consider the public good”. Proview’s lawyer argued that this was irrelevant, and frankly it is.

“Whether people will go hungry because you can’t sell iPads in China is not the issue,” he said. “The court must rule according to the law. Do you absolutely have to sell the product? Can’t you sell it using a different name?”

Apple 5 – 2 Proview

A reasonable request, but it won’t happen. So there you have it. What are your thoughts on this issue? Normally, I’m a little sceptical of Apple’s legal pursuits, but this time I find myself a little more inclined towards Apple’s cause. It seems to me like Proview are clutching at straws. Also note that those straws could land Proview the small sum of $2 billion, but that’s just my take. Be sure to leave a comment, or hit me up over on Twitter @TiP_Stephen


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