Report: Apple in trademark dispute over iPad name

A Taiwanese company claims it owns the trademark in China and is trying to sell it to cover its debts, Financial Times says. Apple is reportedly disputing the sale.

Erica Ogg Former Staff writer, CNET News
Erica Ogg is a CNET News reporter who covers Apple, HP, Dell, and other PC makers, as well as the consumer electronics industry. She's also one of the hosts of CNET News' Daily Podcast. In her non-work life, she's a history geek, a loyal Dodgers fan, and a mac-and-cheese connoisseur.
Erica Ogg
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Apple is in a dispute over the use of the iPad name in China.
Apple is in a dispute over the use of the iPad name in China. James Martin/CNET

A company that claims it owns the trademark on the name "IPAD" in China says it will sue Apple for infringing on its ownership in that market, according to the Financial Times.

The report, published today, weaves a complicated international legal tale surrounding Apple's efforts to secure the trademark name on its popular touch-screen tablet. Here's the gist: Taiwanese contract manufacturer Proview makes displays, but formerly sold a tablet PC named I-Pad, a trademark it registered in China and other markets like the EU, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, and Mexico between 2000 and 2004.

The sales of the device apparently didn't go well, and in 2006 Proview sold the "global trademark" on IPAD for just over $55,000 to a mysterious U.S. company called IP Application Development, whose acronym is IPAD. Turns out, that company was likely a front for Apple.

When Proview ran into financial trouble and its assets in China were seized, the creditors attempted to sell Proview's trademarks. That's when Apple stepped in. Apple is suing Proview and asking that Proview be forced to hand over the trademark in China to IP Application Development.

The dispute over the trademark is still ongoing, but Proview Chairman Yang Rongshan told the FT that it plans to sue Apple "for damages in China and in the U.S.," according to the report.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

IP Application Development is the same company that began registering the iPad trademark in the U.S., Canada, and other places in January, just before Apple officially introduced the iPad.

Apple ran into a snag with its U.S. application for the name, too, because Fujitsu already owned it. Two months after Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, and a week before it went on sale, Fujitsu handed the trademark over to Apple.