Chinese Court Seeking to Mediate iPad Dispute

SHANGHAI (AP) — A Chinese court is mediating between Apple Inc. and the Chinese company challenging its right to use the iPad trademark, seeking to get the companies to settle and finesse an awkward standoff over the issue.

A Chinese court is mediating between Apple and Proview Technologies, which claims it still owns the "iPad" trademark in China.

The Guangdong High Court in southern China, which on Feb. 29 heard Apple’s appeal of a ruling against it by a lower court, is seeking to arrange a settlement, said Ma Dongxiao, a lawyer for Proview Electronics Co.

“It is likely that we will settle out of court. The Guangdong High Court is helping to arrange it and the court also expects to do so,” Ma said Monday.

China has sought to showcase its determination to protect trademarks and other intellectual property, but with tens of thousands of jobs at stake presumably would not want to put Apple in the position of stopping production and marketing in China of the popular tablet computers.

Court officials contacted by phone said they were not authorized to comment on the issue to foreign media. The Shenzhen Special Zone Daily, a state-run newspaper in Shenzhen, where Proview is based, cited the court’s deputy chief judge, Xu Chunjian, as saying last week that the court was working toward a settlement.

Proview, a maker of computer displays and LED lights, says it registered the iPad trademark more than a decade ago. Apple says Proview sold it worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 2009, though the registration was never transferred.

“Actually Proview always expected to settle out of court from the beginning,” Ma said. “I don’t know if Apple has changed its attitude, but I believe that the key point now is the price.”

Chinese courts often try to mediate agreements out of court. But it is unclear whether Apple is open to that option.

An Apple spokeswoman, Carolyn Wu, said the company had no new comment on the possibility of a settlement with Proview.

In a statement, Apple reiterated its earlier insistence that it would never “knowingly abuse someone else’s trademarks.”

The company contends that Proview knowingly misled Apple with the arrangements for the 2009 deal so as to avoid having to hand the 35,000 British pounds ($55,000) the U.S. company paid to its Chinese creditors.

The statement adds that “because they still owe a lot of people a lot of money, they are now unfairly trying to get more from Apple for a trademark we already paid for.”

Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press, with contributions from Fu Ting