Experts say Proview could benefit from secrecy Apple used to obtain 'iPad' name

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014


Apple's legendary secrecy led the company to employ unusual tactics in acquiring the "iPad" trademark from Chinese company Proview, and those methods may have bolstered Proview's case against them, experts say.



Trademark attorneys who spoke with Reuters said Proview "has a plausible claim" against Apple. The company seeks to stop Apple's use of the "iPad" name for its hot-selling touchscreen tablet.



Proview's advantages stem from the strange ways Apple concealed its identity when the company negotiated with Proview to obtain the iPad trademark. Apple's acquisition was done through an "opaque special purpose entity," Proview has said in court filings.



"I have never encountered this level of ruse," said New York-based trademark attorney Martin Schwimmer of Apple's approach.



But some experts also believe that Apple can counter Proview's claims by arguing that the Chinese trademark holder cannot sue Apple directly. Instead, they could tell the court that Proview can only file suit against the special purpose corporation who actually bought the trademarks from them.



Last week, Proview brought its trademark infringement suit against Apple to America in a complaint lodged in a California court. The suit alleges that Apple acted "with oppression, fraud and/or malice" in using the U.K.-based IP Application Development, Ltd, or "IPAD," to buy the naming rights from a Taiwanese affiliate in 2009 for $55,000.











In response, Apple has argued that it legally bought the rights to the iPad name, and that Proview is not honoring its end of the deal struck between the two companies. Proview has sought as much as $2 billion from Apple for the naming rights.



Also last week, Proview suffered a setback in Shanghai, after a local court sided with Apple in a lawsuit filed there. Proview has filed a number of lawsuits in different cities across China, attempting to bar sales of the device. That strategy has led to some minor successes in small cities.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,429member
    Nothing illegal in what Apple did. Standard practice to ensure a fair deal/price is struck and to prevent the sellers eyes changing into huge glowing dollar bill signs.
  • monstrositymonstrosity Posts: 2,097member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    Nothing illegal in what Apple did. Standard practice to ensure a fair deal/price is struck and to prevent the sellers eyes changing into huge glowing dollar bill signs.





    I mean really, how thick are Proview??



    If a random company lacking in history was looking to buy any name which began with a small 'i' from me, I'm pretty sure I would suspect it might be Apple.
  • pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    According to the original article, there is a complaint that Apple's special purpos entity told Proview via email that they would not be competing with Proview.



    I'm not saying the iPad competes with the now-defunct IPAD, but I believe that's an important detail.
  • greekmangogreekmango Posts: 9member
    "oppression, fraud and/or malice" - what a lot of nonsense.



    Having sold the trademark before the iPad boom, Proview withhold its transfer and then want 2 billion when iPad sales are phenomenal.



    Just shows why Apple went to the trouble of buying the trademark through a third party.
  • crowleycrowley Posts: 4,631member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The suit alleges that Apple acted "with oppression, fraud and/or malice"



    I'm sure Proview can prove that.
  • buzzzbuzzz Posts: 84member
    Anyone who is a fan of women's gymnastics will tell you; the Chinese are perfectly capable of coming up with authentic documentation to prove anything it wants. Doesn't make it true and good luck proving it.
  • hattighattig Posts: 787member
    Wow, only $55,000. No wonder Proview are whining! Their subsidiary sold it for a song!



    Who would sell a four letter pronounceable trademark for $55,000 these days? Especially one starting with an i. For a country as large as China.



    They sold it for $55,000, they got what they wanted for it. They didn't sell a license to use it, they sold the entire trademark. The only thing that matters is the contract for the sale, and if that doesn't mention non-competing (and competing with what? An empty broken factory?) then they'll have to man up to the fact that they sold it cheap. Sucks for them.
  • festerfeetfesterfeet Posts: 108member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post


    According to the original article, there is a complaint that Apple's special purpos entity told Proview via email that they would not be competing with Proview.



    I'm not saying the iPad competes with the now-defunct IPAD, but I believe that's an important detail.



    The special purpose vehicle has not competed with Proview, it has just transferred the rights.
  • jcsegenmdjcsegenmd Posts: 105member
    As a long-term fanboy, I usually side with apple, but on this one, they overstepped the line. While what Apple did to procure the name may be correct, it ain't right. The right thing?in my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launched?they should now offer Proview a few million, because the cost of the defending the lawsuit in multiple fora will easily cost that. Everybody walks away happy and Apple won't look like a bully?for the moment.
  • jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,933member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "I have never encountered this level of ruse," said New York-based trademark attorney Martin Schwimmer of Apple's approach.



    It may not be a known technique with intellectual property, but it's well-known for real property. Disney used it a lot in the late 50's and early 60's to buy land in Central Florida. Being an allegedly educated person, it would help to be aware of this.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_corporation



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Di...nd_development
  • festerfeetfesterfeet Posts: 108member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jcsegenmd View Post


    As a long-term fanboy, I usually side with apple, but on this one, they overstepped the line. While what Apple did to procure the name may be correct, it ain't right. The right thing?in my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launched?they should now offer Proview a few million, because the cost of the defending the lawsuit in multiple fora will easily cost that. Everybody walks away happy and Apple won't look like a bully?for the moment.



    Apple can't pay up now, even if they wanted to. Proview is so far in with the banks and administrator that that wouldn't even cover their bills.



    The banks are the ones paying for the lawyers and and they are expecting a return on their investment, especially as this has been going on for quite a while now.
  • wovelwovel Posts: 953member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Crowley View Post


    I'm sure Proview can prove that.



    Maybe the Chinese translation of Absence of Malice was just released.



    You know, the real point here is that Proview valued their Brand at $55,000. They did not have to accept that. They were free to value their brand however they liked. This appears to be just another blunder in a long series of blunders,
  • mrstepmrstep Posts: 446member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    It may not be a known technique with intellectual property, but it's well-known for real property. Disney used it a lot in the late 50's and early 60's to buy land in Central Florida. Being an allegedly educated person, it would help to be aware of this.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_corporation



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Di...nd_development



    Yeah, calling it a 'ruse' is a bit far-fetched. Whether ProView thought they were selling the iPad name to Apple, some other company, or to ME is irrelevant, they were willing to sell the name. For extra amusement, Apple's iPad doesn't compete at all with ProView's IPAD since the IPAD is apparently a rip-off of the old iMac (tube) design.



    (Or has someone seen something else - all I can find is something that looks like a colored iMac era design.)
  • freediverxfreediverx Posts: 1,344member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jcsegenmd View Post


    As a long-term fanboy, I usually side with apple, but on this one, they overstepped the line. While what Apple did to procure the name may be correct, it ain't right. The right thing–in my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launched–they should now offer Proview a few million, because the cost of the defending the lawsuit in multiple fora will easily cost that. Everybody walks away happy and Apple won't look like a bully…for the moment.





    Just curious, what do you base this opinion on, the law, case history, or your personal sense of business ethics?



    What Apple did is completely customary for the process of acquiring trademarks, domain names, etc. It is done in order to secure a fair price and to prevent the seller from grossly inflating the sale price to match the resources of the buyer, which is exactly what ProView wants to do and would have done.



    How would you like it if the local mall pulled your IRS returns before setting prices on the merchandise you can buy (starting at standard retail price for low income earners)?
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    It may not be a known technique with intellectual property, but it's well-known for real property. Disney used it a lot in the late 50's and early 60's to buy land in Central Florida. Being an allegedly educated person, it would help to be aware of this.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dummy_corporation



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walt_Di...nd_development



    Absolutely. It's a very common business tactic when you don't want the other side to know who they're dealing with. I've done it in the past and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jcsegenmd View Post


    As a long-term fanboy, I usually side with apple, but on this one, they overstepped the line. While what Apple did to procure the name may be correct, it ain't right. The right thing?in my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launched?they should now offer Proview a few million, because the cost of the defending the lawsuit in multiple fora will easily cost that. Everybody walks away happy and Apple won't look like a bully?for the moment.



    There's nothing Apple can do to stop people from attacking it. No matter what they do, there is a large crowd who will tell the world how evil they are.



    Apple employed a standard business practice. They paid Proview a price that Proview considered to be a fair price. They do not owe Proview any more money. Where do you draw the line? Should they start adding a few dollars to the price of A5 chips they buy? Maybe just add 10% to their employee salaries? Heck, why not voluntarily double their tax bill?



    The law sets down what companies are required to do and Apple acted in full compliance with the law. Case closed.
  • austingaijinaustingaijin Posts: 25member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jcsegenmd View Post


    As a long-term fanboy, I usually side with apple, but on this one, they overstepped the line. While what Apple did to procure the name may be correct, it ain't right. The right thing?in my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launched?they should now offer Proview a few million, because the cost of the defending the lawsuit in multiple fora will easily cost that. Everybody walks away happy and Apple won't look like a bully?for the moment.



    I'm surprised to read some of those quotes from trademark attorneys. I've owned several domains in the past that other companies have wanted to buy, and they ALWAYS tried to do so through an intermediary so that the seller (me) wouldn't demand a higher price knowing the real recipient's identity. Standard practice, as far as I'm concerned.



    Somebody else here pointed out, who would sell a four letter technology trademark starting with 'i' without first assessing it's true market value?
  • greginpraguegreginprague Posts: 415member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by freediverx View Post


    Just curious, what do you base this opinion on, the law, case history, or your personal sense of business ethics?



    What Apple did is completely customary for the process of acquiring trademarks, domain names, etc. It is done in order to secure a fair price and to prevent the seller from grossly inflating the sale price to match the resources of the buyer, which is exactly what ProView wants to do and would have done.



    How would you like it if the local mall pulled your IRS returns before setting prices on the merchandise you can buy (starting at standard retail price for low income earners)?



    That's a great analogy. I hadn't thought of the situation like that. Did you come up with that on your own or did you get it from somewhere else? I may use that when explaining the situation to others now.
  • bluefish86bluefish86 Posts: 115member
    How many times do we need to see a screenshot of Proview's home page?
  • fjordprefectfjordprefect Posts: 34member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    Nothing illegal in what Apple did. Standard practice to ensure a fair deal/price is struck and to prevent the sellers eyes changing into huge glowing dollar bill signs.



    Apparently Walt Disney employed a similar tactic when buying the land for Disney World in Florida. Had he purchased the real estate under his actual name, the seller would likely have jacked up the price just because they knew Disney could afford it.
  • greginpraguegreginprague Posts: 415member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bluefish86 View Post


    How many times do we need to see a screenshot of Proview's home page?



    Every Foxconn article has had the same photo of assembly line workers for weeks now. Reusing photos is what AI does. Gotta get used to it, be perpetually annoyed or go elsewhere.
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