Apple comes down hard on manufacturers that attempt to use its product names — or any variation of its product names — for their own goods. We learned this yesterday when it was revealed the Cupertino company is demanding a New Zealand case manufacturer to change the name of its driPhone brand. But it seems Apple may be guilty of exactly the same practice, which could land it a $38 million fine from Chinese company Proview Technology.
Apple purchased the iPad trademark from Proview — via a front company called IP Application Development — back in 2006 for around $55,000 However, Proview claims its deal with Apple did not give the iPad manufacturer permission to use the trademark in China, where the name remains the property of Proview Technology (Shenzhen), a subsidiary of Proview International in Hong Kong.
The company sued Apple for trademark infringement in China last year, seeking compensation of 10 billion yuan (approx. $1.6 billion). Despite a counter claim from Apple, a Chinese court ruled in favor of Proview.
The Global Times now reports Proview’s lawyer Xie Xianghui confirmed plans to “slap Apple with a 240 million yuan (approx. $28 million) fine”:
“Proview made a formal complaint to the Xicheng administration in 2011 and they had planned to slap Apple with a 240 million yuan ($38 million) fine, but it was suspended after Apple’s objections,” said Xie Xianghui, a lawyer from the Shenzhen branch of Grandall Law Firm.
Proview isn’t just targeting Apple, either. The company has also filed separate lawsuits in local courts against Apple’s authorized resellers and its retail stores.
Proview is said to be trapped in a “debt crisis,” and is hoping the case will get the company out of its financial troubles. But Proview doesn’t just want compensation; it also wants an apology from Apple, according to AppleInsider:
Proview isn’t just looking for money, though. Xie told the China Daily that the company wants Apple to say sorry. “We ask the court to stop selling and marketing for Apple’s iPad in China. We also demand an apology,” Xie said.
Xiao Caiyuan, another lawyer representing Proview, is confident Apple will lose its appeal again “based on existing facts.” “We have prepared well for a long-term legal battle,” Xiao told the Global Times.