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Chinese Court Hears Apple Appeal On iPad Trademark

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 10:08am
The Associated Press

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — A Chinese court on Wednesday began hearing Apple's appeal of a ruling against its right to use the iPad trademark in China, but no decision was announced.

Apple Inc. is in several legal battles with Proview Electronics Co., which the U.S. company says sold it the rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries, including China, in 2009. Apple contends that Proview has refused to honor the agreement and has not indicated any willingness to settle with Proview, a maker of computer monitors and LED lights.

Speaking after the hearing at the Guangdong High Court in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, a lawyer for Proview reiterated the company's openness to a settlement with Apple.

"Regarding the trademark right, this is ... non-negotiable," said lawyer Xiao Caiyuan. "However, if Apple wants to legally obtain permission to use the trademark, or to own the trademark by legal transfer, and it can provide a basket of proposals on settling the case outside of court, we would not refuse it," Xiao said.

The court adjourned with the date for any further hearings to be announced later.

On Tuesday, Proview announced it was seeking to regain worldwide rights to the iPad name and is suing Apple Inc. in the U.S. for alleged fraud and unfair competition, hoping to have a 2009 sale of the trademark ruled void. Proview was previously only claiming rights to the iPad name in China.

Apart from having the trademark sale voided, it also is seeking unspecified compensation, a share of Apple's profits from alleged "unfair competition" and an order for Apple to stop using the trademarks.

So far, two lower courts in Guangdong have sided with Proview, while a Hong Kong court ruled in Apple's favor. Last week, Shanghai's High Court rejected Proview's effort to get Apple to stop selling the popular tablet computer under the iPad name.

Proview, once a major computer monitor manufacturer, launched a device it called iPAD, or Internet Personal Access Device, in 2000 but it was not a market hit. Apple launched its popular iPad tablet in 2010.

Proview contends Apple intentionally misled it when it bought iPad trademarks through a special purpose company called IP Application Development Ltd. that concealed it was acting on Apple's behalf.

Experts in the high-tech field say such tactics are common given the secrecy surrounding new product launches, especially Apple's.

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