Apple might be forced into a settlement with Proview sooner than later given the latter’s recent efforts to ban all imports and exports of the iPad from China, a dispute that stems from Proview’s assertion that it owns the iPad trademark.
“We are applying to customs to stop any trademark- infringing products from imports to China and also for exports,” said Roger Xie, an attorney for Proview. “Apple wants to postpone and continue infringement of the iPad in China.”
A halt to exports from China would be “catastrophic” for Apple because it would mean a global halt to iPad sales, said Stan Abrams, an intellectual property lawyer and a law professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. The threat of an export ban increases the pressure on Apple to settle the case, he said.
“There’s got to be a settlement, and fairly soon,” Abrams said. “I can’t see how much more incentivized to settle Apple could be.”
Wang Jingsong, a spokesman for China’s Customs department, said he didn’t immediately have any information on the case.
Apple sued Proview’s Shenzhen-based unit in 2010, claiming ownership of the iPad trademark in China. The Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court rejected Apple’s claims on Nov. 17, Proview said in a Dec. 15 regulatory filing. Apple appealed that ruling to the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong province on Jan. 5, Proview said in a Jan. 27 filing.
Preliminary reports have suggested that Proview may seek upwards of $1.6 billion to settle its dispute with Apple. A hefty amount to be sure, but given that all iPads emanate from China, Apple can’t really risk an export ban. Funny how this is all going down in China, a country with a notorious disregard for intellectual property.