Apple to Pay China’s Proview $60 Million to Settle ‘iPad’ Name Ownership

Apple will be paying Chinese firm Proview Technology to settle its dispute involving the trademark name “iPad,” says a court in China. Apple and Proview have been engaged in copyright litigation after Proview claimed it still owned the trademark in China.

Apple's iPad has been the subject of trademark litigation in China with Proview Technology claiming ownership of the "iPad" trademark. Apple and Proview have since entered into a $60M settlement (Photo Credit: Abe Olandres / Tech Wire Asia).

Proview registered the name “IPAD” in 2000, intending to use it for its various technologies, although the company was unable to market any device under such name. The company had since sold rights to the name in 2009 through an intermediary company, with the actual buyer being Apple. The Cupertino, CA-based company says this acquisition included China.

However, Proview said it had been deceived to believe the iPad name would not be used for a consumer device, with the supposed buyer being the “IP Application Development LTD.” Proview likewise sued in the U.S., but the case has since been dismissed.

A Guangdong court has acted to mediate between the two companies. “The iPad dispute resolution is ended,” said the court in the settlement. “Apple Inc. has transferred US$ 60 m to the account of the Guangdong High Court as requested in the mediation letter.”

Proview has confirmed the settlement, in a statement to the BBC. “The case is settled; both sides are satisfied with the agreement,” said Ma Dongxiao, a lawyer who handles Proview’s case.

“iPad” Rights

In 2009, Apple bought global rights to the name “iPad” from Proview’s Taiwan affiliate at an acquisition price of US$ 55,000. However, Proview insists that its Taiwanese affiliate did not have the right to sell the rights to the name in China. As a result of the trademark disputes, Apples’ iPad tablet computers have been banned from being sold in some parts of the country.

This sales ban has not been without cost to Apple. China is one of the fastest-growing markets for Apple products like the iPhone and iPad. At the same time, Apple has seen competition from rivals that have been tapping this lucrative market. This includes Samsung, with its flagship Galaxy S III smartphone and tablet. In the smartphone market, other alternatives are also doing well in the market, including the popular Xiaomi smartphone.

Analysts believe that this may be one of the reasons behind Apple’s going for the settlement. The company would rather pay in order to minimize disruption in sales. “When Apple is on the receiving end of a litigation, especially in China, it is a sensible move for them to settle it and move on,” said Andrew Milroy of Frost & Sullivan.

With the case being