Apr 25, 2012 06:26 PM

SAIC Backs Proview in Apple Dispute


(Beijing) – An official from the State Administration for Industry and Commerce says Proview Technology (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd. holds the trademark to the iPad name.

Proview and Apple Inc. are involved in a court dispute over who owns the iPad name in China.

However, Fu Shuangjian, deputy director general of SAIC, said on April 24 that according to China's Trademark Law, Shenzhen Proview was the legitimate registered entity for the iPad trademark.

Local SAIC branches were still investigating, Fu added.

Proview, once the world's fourth-largest manufacturer of flat panel displays, is heavily in debt. In June 2010, U.S. electronics giant Apple sued the Chinese company claiming exclusive ownership of the iPad trademark.

That lawsuit was thrown out by the Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People's Court, which ruled Shenzhen Proview was not a party to the deal signed by Proview Taiwan Ltd. and an Apple intermediary in Britain called IP Application Development Ltd. Apple based its original claim on a 2009 agreement with Proview Taiwan Ltd. which, like the Shenzhen company, is a unit of Hong Kong-based Proview International.

In February 2012, Shenzhen Proview won support from regional branches of the SAIC, which had Apple iPad computer tablets pulled from store shelves in several cities.

Guangdong Provincial High Court heard arguments from both sides on February 29, 2012, and adjourned without a verdict. The court did not say when or if a decision might be rendered, although an out-of-court settlement may be reached.

A victory for Apple could strengthen the iPad's presence in China. But if Proview prevails, the American company could be forced to pay US$ 400 million in damages and government fines. Authorities could ban iPad sales in China and exports of the Chinese-made devices.



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