Apple struggles in iPad trademark dispute in China as authorities seize units

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014


Local Chinese authorities have begun seizing iPad 2 units in at least one city as Apple faces an uphill climb in its dispute with a Chinese company over the iPad trademark.



Chinese newspaper Hebei Youth Daily (via Xinhua) reported on Monday that officials from the local Administration of Industry and Commerce (AIC) in the city of Shijiazhuang in the northern province of Hebei had confiscated 45 iPad units from resellers over two days. Authorities told the newspaper that they had received complaints of trademark infringement from Proview Technology (Shenzhen), a company that is suing Apple in China over the issue.



According to IP law professor Stan Abrams of China Hearsay, the AIC is a Chinese federal agency that sits above China's Trademark Office. The agency has the authority to "raid premises, seize documents, equipment, products and counterfeit marks, and it can halt activity and lock down businesses," he noted in a recent report.



Apple purchased the international rights to the iPad trademark from Proview (Taiwan) via a front company in 2006, but Proview (Shenzhen) claims that the deal did not include the rights to the trademark in China, since the Taiwanese company was not authorized to sell them.



Proview (Shenzhen) filed suit last year, but Apple countersued. Last December, a Chinese court rejected Apple's suit. Apple appealed the ruling last month.



As a result of the recent inspections in Hebei, retail shops and electronic stores have reportedly begun hiding their iPad inventory. Vendors told one reporter that they were keeping stock in a back room so as to avoid drawing attention from inspectors.





Chinese officials inspect iPad 2 units after confiscating them. | Credit: Hebei Youth Daily







Apple, which has just five official stores in China, does not have a retail presence in Shijiazhuang. The iPad maker does, however, continue to sell its best-selling tablet on its localized online store. An Apple salesperson told AppleInsider on Tuesday that the company was still able to ship iPad orders to Shijiazhuang.



Proview lawyer Xie Xianghui told the Associated Press that the company has filed complaints in more than 20 cities, asking authorities to destroy promotional materials in violation of its trademark.





Apple's iPad 2 was still listed as "In Stock" on its China online store on Tuesday.







“We haven’t made a demand for economic compensation. We will pursue it through another channel,” Xie said.



Proview is actively pursuing multiple channels in order to put pressure on Apple. Xie said last week that a court in Beijing had readied a 240 million yuan ($38 million) fine against Apple for the alleged infringement. A Shanghai court will hear a lawsuit over the issue later this month.



The company has said it is seeking a total of 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in damages from Apple. According to him, Proview is also demanding a formal apology.



China expert Bill Bishop noted on DigiCha on Monday that, according to Chinese press, Proview is looking to cripple Apple's iPad sales by seeking an export ban from China Customs. Since most of Apple's iPads are manufactured in China, intervention from the country's customs agency could affect the global supply of iPads.



The threat of an export ban in China is even more troubling for Apple as it is reportedly gearing up to launch a third-generation iPad next month. The new device is widely believed to be manufactured by Foxconn and Pegatron in mainland China.



AppleInsider has contacted Apple for comment on recent developments in its dispute with Proview (Shenzhen), but it has yet to hear back from the company.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • 29922992 Posts: 202member
    happy IPR and patents game!
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    This is an interesting situation for Apple. So they licensed for all use of iPad and Proview is lying or someone at Apple messed up when securing the rights to the name.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    China expert Bill Bishop noted on DigiCha on Monday that, according to Chinese press, Proview is looking to cripple Apple's iPad sales by seeking an export ban from China Customs. Since most of Apple's iPads are manufactured in China, intervention from the country's customs agency could affect the global supply of iPads.



    If they can pull that off that will be devastating to Apple. Are those Brazilian iPad factories up and running yet? Note their market cap is listed as $155 million.
  • ko024ko024 Posts: 68member
    Oh no, 45 units...!!! I better sell my stock tomorrow..!! Haha..!! Those authorities just wanted the latest and greatest tablet on the house.. The funny thing is that since it was a reseller apple did not lose any money over this... The ants are really coming out of the wood work lately... It's funny to see everyone squirm to get a piece of the pie....
  • msavwahmsavwah Posts: 5member
    Shakedown.
  • belugabeluga Posts: 83member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ko024 View Post


    Oh no, 45 units...!!! I better sell my stock tomorrow..!! Haha..!! Those authorities just wanted the latest and greatest tablet on the house.. The funny thing is that since it was a reseller apple did not lose any money over this... The ants are really coming out of the wood work lately... It's funny to see everyone squirm to get a piece of the pie....



    You're right. 45 iPads is nothing. Still I don't think apple should take this lightly. Total ban of Chinese exports is serious even just to contemplate it. It would be devastating for the company even if it happened briefly. And something tells me the Chinese will tend to favor their own companies versus filthy-rich American apple! Just a thought.
  • sflocalsflocal Posts: 3,419member
    I'm taking all this with a grain of salt. As with most rumors, lots of discussion but little substance.



    There's a chess game going on and right now, everyone is watching to see who will blink first. I think (hope) Apple will come out of this with minimal scratches. Something just does not sound right about the entire fiasco.
  • daramouthedaramouthe Posts: 36member
    Sounds like fandroids everywhere are wetting their pants with glee. Once Apple starts hurting the onslaught ensues.
  • misamisa Posts: 637member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Beluga View Post


    You're right. 45 iPads is nothing. Still I don't think apple should take this lightly. Total ban of Chinese exports is serious even just to contemplate it. It would be devastating for the company even if it happened briefly. And something tells me the Chinese will tend to favor their own companies versus filthy-rich American apple! Just a thought.



    Consider that it's a trademark, not an outright copy of some existing chinese item. All Apple has to do is take the iPad trademark off the product, and in chinese firmware, and that solves the problem. Take example of Nintendo where the same DS product is called iQue in China.



    Like if I was Apple and was keeping a backup plan, I'd have the "iPad" trademark not printed on the product assembly line in China, and then have the appropriate trademark applied at the same point the firmware is applied, outside China. That solves the trademark issue.



    Or they could call the iPad3 something else, and cease production of the iPad2 in China.



    Personally I'm thinking that Apple's going to go to the Chinese government and go "If you want any more of our future business, you will make Proview sell us the trademark." Or Apple could just buy Proview and fire everyone.
  • apple ][apple ][ Posts: 7,906member
    The communists are lying and they have zero honor. A rat is more trustworthy. Apple already bought the rights from those criminals. And how comical is it that China is attempting to enforce any sort of rules when practically all they do in China is rip other products off? Counterfeiting is a huge industry for them.



    "We bought Proview's worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago. Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China," said an Apple spokeswoman in Beijing, Carolyn Wu.



    And of course that little gang of weasels has the corrupt government on their side, as China is incredibly corrupt and ranks below almost all developed countries.



    Chinese news reports say Proview, which makes computer displays, is deep in debt and needs a big settlement from Apple.



    So, they're liars, untrustworthy and they're desperately broke. Nobody needs to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that there lies the perfect motive behind their desperate and laughable move. 45 iPads. If somebody had confiscated 45 Android tablets, that would mean that worldwide sales would be cut in half, but I don't think that 45 iPads is going to matter much to anybody.



    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wir...6#.TzoH5JhvnyM
  • slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,470member
    Can't Apple just pay them off it it comes down to that? It's better than all iPads being pulled off shelves in China.
  • sekingseking Posts: 5member
    @Pad, where @ is the Apple logo like in the Apple TV (@TV). Just start doing that for all products:

    @Phone

    @OS

    @TV

    @MacBook

    @Mac

    @Care

    @Cloud

    @Store

    @Tunes

    @Pod



    No one can ever claim ever that they own the mark.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by seking View Post


    @Pad, where @ is the Apple logo like in the Apple TV (@TV). Just start doing that for all products:

    @Phone

    @OS

    @TV

    @MacBook

    @Mac

    @Care

    @Cloud

    @Store

    @Tunes

    @Pod



    No one can ever claim ever that they own the mark.



    If you're on a Mac just type Shift+Option+K to get the  symbol.
  • asciiascii Posts: 5,363member
    Does China have a national trademarks register? Surely if Apple bought the trademark off this other company 10 years ago, they would be the official owner in that register, and that should be the end of it.
  • rabbit_coachrabbit_coach Posts: 1,114member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post




    Chinese news reports say Proview, which makes computer displays, is deep in debt and needs a big settlement from Apple.



    So, they're liars, untrustworthy and they're desperately broke. Nobody needs to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that there lies the perfect motive behind their desperate and laughable move. 45 iPads. If somebody had confiscated 45 Android tablets, that would mean that worldwide sales would be cut in half, but I don't think that 45 iPads is going to matter much to anybody.



    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wir...6#.TzoH5JhvnyM



    This Prowiew guys are the scum of our world. This is not hard to see, and companies or people like this are all over the world. What makes me furious is, that the Chinese government obviously tolerates this blatant criminal behavior.
  • nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    [rant deleted]
  • drobforeverdrobforever Posts: 400member
    China is governed by relationships, not by the rule of law, so I don't think Apple should take this lightly at all. I doubt the production/exporting of iPad through Foxconn would be disrupted, since obviously Foxconn has a good relationship with the Chinese government, but the retail stores of Apple could be in trouble.



    I would've just paid off the government officials (instead of this no name company) so to secure any future product sale. It's really not worth it to fight against the Chinese government, just look at Google, it's still selling at $600 now, same as when they said they'd pull out of China, with Apple basically doubled their stock price during the time period.
  • nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    [rant deleted]
  • macologistmacologist Posts: 264member
    This does smell like an extortion, shakedown...



    Ban on Export of iPads = answer - Brazil or another Location for manufacturing

    Apple could Rename iPad that are to be sold in China

    Worst case, 1.6B won't end Apple



    The larger Q that comes to mind is:



    Could China Nationalize Foxcon Plant that makes iPads, and start making them for China?



    Yes, I am raising Extremely Unusual Possibilities, but then anything can be expected from a Totalitarian State, where in one Region such seizure can happen, while in the rest of the country it's Innocent Until Proven Guilty - i.e. Apple must be found Guilty before any penalty is to be imposed!!! So...



    Is it possible that Chinese Government is playing Good Cop Bad Cop against Apple, where the Bad Cop gets to take 45 iPads, and maybe scare AAPL Investors, so to drive AAPL stock down, so that some people in China can buy it at lower prices?



    Again, I am just thinking aloud, but at the same time, I see how in China they might be playing by different rules! And then I know that Western Companies were Nationalized not just by Castro's Cuba!



    Either way, it's crazy to see some Regional Authorities grab these iPads when this Legal Case hasn't had a Final Ruling, which would likely go into Appeal... By the time all Appeals are exhausted, Apple could have alternate location for iPad Manufacturing, outside China!!! The Chinese jobs would be lost, so that the owners of one company can extort money from Apple!!!



    This also reminds me of Cyber Squatting, where people bought up Domain Names, so that they could later sell it to the actual big companies who missed on buying those Domain Names...



    Did this Chinese Proview Company actually make any product called iPad that could be confused with Apple's iPad? Is that product similar to Apple's iPad in any way, that the consumer can buy one of them by mistake?



    The Funniest Thing about China is that it's supposed to be Workers' Paradise, ala the Former Soviet Union! And here we are, with The Filthy Rich Capitalist Apple taking a Lead in Abuse Investigations, to get better working Conditions for the Poor Chinese workers!!!



    As I've often seen it said here on AI, if Foxcon was among the worst places to work in China, the workers would have gone to work elsewhere! I also think it's up to Chinese Government to Protect it's workers! If those workers are not leaving Foxcon for better jobs elsewhere, then:



    ? Foxconn is not as bed as Media says it is, or

    ? There are not that many other jobs in China, which is not Apple's fault, right?



    Maybe all that Noise about poor Conditions is an Extortion to Negotiate a Bigger Raise yet, by portraying Apple as Explotator Monstern, Evil Capitalists?!



    ? But then it's up to Foxconn, not Apple, to either Pay more, or call those workers' Bluff, by saying:



    Take this job or Leave!!!!



    Either way, I'd love to see Apple do more manufacturing elsewhere, but China, because this iPads Grab is either too One Sided Fluke, or possibly a move by the Chinese Main Government which is playing Good Cop Bad Cop, in order to Shake Down Apple!!!



    All of the above are my concerns, and not my final opinions! I am looking forward to learning from those who know a lot more about this than me! Thanks in advance for your responses!!!
  • nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    [Rant self-deleted]
  • gtrgtr Posts: 3,165member
    Silly bastards.



    If they could have waited a couple of months before this 'confiscation' they could have been taking home iPad 3's to their kids instead of just iPad 2's...
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