Apple threatened with $2B lawsuit in iPad dispute

Apple is facing a possible U.S. lawsuit from Chinese company Proview, which continues to claim the trademark on the iPad name.

Lance Whitney
Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
3 min read

Apple could find itself mired in a $2 billion lawsuit from Proview Technology in an ongoing legal battle over who owns the iPad name.

The new lawsuit would be filed in the United States and follow similar suits already launched by Proview against Apple in China.

"Right now we are selecting from three American law firms to sue Apple in the United States for $2 billion in compensation," Hejun Vanguard Group chairman Li Su said at a press conference today, according to TechCrunch and other sources. Hejun Vanguard is a consulting firm working with creditors to restructure Proview, which has been forced to file for bankruptcy.

Responding to allegations that Proview is trying to strong-arm Apple just to get out of its financial quagmire, Proview CEO Yang Rongshan defended his actions.

"We own it [the iPad trademark] in China. If you were in my position... you would try to protect your rights," Yang told reporters at the press conference, noted The Times of India.

Fighting with Apple over the iPad trademark, Proview has claimed that its own subsidiary, which sold the name to Apple years ago, didn't have the authority to do so. Proview has reportedly been looking to settle out of court over the issue but says that Apple has so far failed to respond to its requests.

An attorney for Proview said the U.S. lawsuit would also be filed on the grounds that Apple bought the rights to the iPad name on condition that it would not make products to compete with Proview, The Times of India added. However, Proview's IPAD is nothing like Apple's iPad.

Ads for the Proview IPAD handed out at the press conference and posted by the Wall Street Journal reveal a full-blown computer system that looks more like an iMac than an iPad tablet.

Apple scored an initial victory last July after a Hong Kong court found that the agreement with Proview's subsidiary was binding. A series of e-mails posted yesterday by AllThingsD revealed the finer details of the sale of the iPad trademark to Apple.

But Apple has faced a tougher time proving its case in the China courts.

After its own suit against Proview was thrown out of court in December, Apple filed an appeal last month to have the case reheard. However, a court in southern China found that Proview did own the iPad trademark.

Proview was also able to convince Chinese authorities to remove iPads from a third-party retailer in response to Apple's refusal to honor the trademark.

Still, Proview faces a difficult situation battling a company whose products are so popular in China. Trying to seek a ban on the import and export of the iPad this week, Proview was quickly shot down by customs officials who nixed the idea "because consumers love Apple products."

In response to the potential new lawsuit, an Apple representative reiterated the company's previous statement on the dispute.

"We bought Proview's worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago. Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China and a Hong Kong court has sided with Apple in this matter. Our case is still pending in mainland China."

Updated 7:15 a.m. PT with response from Apple.