Apple settles iPad trademark battle for $60m

The technology giant has agreed to pay Chinese manufacturer Proview $60m to end a two-year dispute over iPad trademark rights in China.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
The two firms have been wrangling over the use of the term iPad in China after Proview produced evidence of registering the trademark make in 2000. Apple insisted that it secured the global trademark for $55,000 in 2009 from Proview's Taiwanese business. However, according to Proview, the Taiwanese affiliate did not have the right to sell. Talk about getting lost in translation.

The feud has been raging unabated for two years. Apple first sued Proview Shenzhen in 2010 over its ownership of the iPad trademark in China, but lost the case. As a result, Proview was able to stop shipments of the iPad into China, and demanded that the tablets were removed from shelves in local retailers.

However, Proview is now celebrating with a shot of Baijiu today after reaching a settlement with the iPhone-maker. ‘The iPad dispute resolution is ended,’ the Guangdong High People's Court said in a statement today. ‘Apple Inc. has transferred $60m to the account of the Guangdong High Court as requested in the mediation letter.’

It’s doubtful that Apple boss Tim Cook is going to lose any sleep over the pay-out, though. Not with a staggering $110bn sitting in the bank; $60m probably just about skims off a few weeks’ interest. And with Apple revenues in China going through the roof – turnover tripled in the last quarter alone to $7.9bn – it’s in Apple’s best interests to turn the other cheek.

But this may not be the end of the road for the Apple/Proview saga. The trademark dispute was not limited to China alone, but extended into the US. Apparently, Apple acquired the iPad trademark using somewhat underhand means – it did the deal through a subsidiary in the UK called IP Application Development Ltd (IPADL), alleges Proview.  The case was dismissed by the courts earlier this year, but MT reckons this will remain a real thorn in Proview’s side: ultimately, it missed out on a potentially even bigger pay-out through failing to identify the true IP purchaser.

With that in mind, MT is off to buy up a few trademarks. Wonder if we can get away with ’iWillSellForABillion’?

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