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

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 
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 ]
post #2 of 72
happy IPR and patents game!
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post #3 of 72
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.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #4 of 72
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....
post #5 of 72
Shakedown.
post #6 of 72
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.
post #7 of 72
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.
post #8 of 72
Sounds like fandroids everywhere are wetting their pants with glee. Once Apple starts hurting the onslaught ensues.
post #9 of 72
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.
post #10 of 72
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
post #11 of 72
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.
post #12 of 72
@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.
post #13 of 72
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.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

Reply
post #14 of 72
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.
post #15 of 72
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.
post #16 of 72
[rant deleted]
post #17 of 72
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.
post #18 of 72
[rant deleted]
post #19 of 72
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!!!

Go  Apple!!!

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Go  Apple!!!

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post #20 of 72
[Rant self-deleted]
post #21 of 72
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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post #22 of 72
Apple should just remove the word "iPad" from the boxes and promotional material.

A picture of what it is should be enough.

"I'll have one of those"

"One of these"

"Yes"

"Black, White, 16, 32, 64, wifi or 3G"

"I'll have a white 64 3G. please".

"That'll be lots of yuan"

What do you need a name for?

Apple could run an ad campaign with no mention of the name at all and people would still know what it is.

They could go to court and say "we want to sell these"

The court could say "What are they called"

Apple "Nothing, they don't have a name".
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post #23 of 72
Apple doesn't want to set a precedent here. If they pay off this scumbag company for 1.6B every sick company in China will come after them. They can probably just keep fighting this until this company goes under or no longer has the resources to do anything.

And really if this company wants to fight this dirty Apple should fight dirtier. Does the company hold any other trademarks or patents that Apple can sue over? If they make any products can Apple disrupt their supply chain behind the scenes? Can they bribe any Chinese officials to make their lives a living hell in other ways? Squeeze their nuts till they cry mercy, I say, don't let go. Lowlife IP squatters like this need to be made an example of so no one dares try it again.

And yes I'm assuming they were squatting on the trademark. Were they actually making a product called iPad or were they just trademarking every iThing in the hopes that one day Apple would sell it in China?
post #24 of 72
[Rant self-deleted]
post #25 of 72
See what happens when you deal with a country that has total domination, and the ability to do what ever the fuck they want. I say pull out of china. Pull out all apple manufacturing. Cant do it all at once but it can be done. Let china decide what to do with all those out of work employees. Screw china!!!!!!!! China thinks they have us by the balls. We depend on them for almost all our goods. Way to go Big business.
An Apple man since 1977
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post #26 of 72
Quote:
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.

This will never happen. China is reliant on non Chinese companies having their product produced in China. It is a significant part of their income.

Regardless of who owns the name for iPad in China, I can not see the Chinese government stoping Apple having the iPad made in China and shipped to countries where they do own the name, especially with the new production facilities being built outside of China.
post #27 of 72
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post #28 of 72
[Rant self-deleted]
post #29 of 72
I say pull out all american manufacturing from china. It can't be done all at once but pull out over time. Screw china. They seem to feel as if they can do what ever they want and we are gonna just take it up the ass. Its time to send those pricks a message. We don't need you any more. You suck and you are not worthy of our money. Also we need to do some thing about all the corporate scum bags who sell our jobs to china. On top of that we need to do something about all the scum bag politicians who are bought and paid for by the corporate scum bags. We need to make our own goods and learn to make permanent jobs here in this country. China sucks and they deserve what they will be getting. This is the tip of the ice burg and there will be more to come. Once more thing. Who in the hell came up with the idea to ask china to buy our debt? Thats a joke.
An Apple man since 1977
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An Apple man since 1977
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post #30 of 72
[Rant self-deleted]
post #31 of 72
[Rant self-deleted]
post #32 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by nvidia2008 View Post

China ALREADY has the Western World by the F**** Balls BIG TIME, my friend. Any citizen of a G20 country should contact their congressperson (or equivalent) ASAP on this kind of BS.

Depending on the Middle East for oil? PFFT cakewalk compared to what China is going to have over the WORLD this CENTURY. Jobs, Economy, Resources, Cheap Labour, Cheap Manufacturing, Stealing, Lying... AND MORE. Just wait 'till they get nukes or any decent non-China-made modern military gear then we can kiss our way of life in the G20 world GOODBYE. China will probably be first to Mars anyway, and will have true space-fighter "jets" at the end of 2099.

Actually, if this ban is successfully implemented, it could be a windfall for Apple.

Not allowed to use the term 'iPad' in China?

Fine.

Don't sell them there then.

But do sell them to the scalpers just outside China at twice the price.

Sit back, and watch, as hilarity ensues.
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post #33 of 72
[Rant self-deleted]
post #34 of 72
I think a simple solution for apple would be to remove the word iPad from their tablets especially in china... I font think anyone will identify the iPad moniker with any other tablet.. Good luck to this company which is supposedly having the rights in china. If for whatever reasons China starts blocking the exports of Apple products out of china, Apple will be forced to move it else where maybe a six months delay in the next ipad release. Big deal, people who want the iPad will wait,
and in one of the meetings with the Chinese leaders asking what can be done for Apple to come back and use Chinese Manufacturing facilities TIm cook will be saying..
THESE JOBS ARE NOT COMING BACK TO CHINA EVER.
post #35 of 72
[Rant self-deleted]
post #36 of 72
The thing is anyone who knows any of the facts behind this case immediately recognizes that China Proview's case is utter and complete bull@#$% - plain and simple.

China has a rather well documented habit of ignoring international laws and norms when it comes to a question of a Chinese company versus a foreign company. If this case had been filed in just about any other G20 country it would have been thrown out in about 12 seconds.

The entire premise is little more than a textbook definition of a shakedown ...
post #37 of 72
45 iPadsthats HUNDREDS of dollars down the drain! In fact its .000008% of the 55 million Apple has sold.

(Why do they need to open and inspect the units? Is there some weird paperwork that they have to have seen the word iPad on each one?)
post #38 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

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.

Are those Brazilian iPad factories up and running yet? Note their market cap is listed as $155 million.

I think Proview is crooked and they are trying to get paid twice for the name. They are also greedy. They are worth 155 million and they want 1.5 bil on a technicality for a name that they already sold for 55,000 ?

Don't give them shit. If China is short sighted enough to ignore international laws allowing their companies to double dip, Apple can change the name there and just call it iSlate or macPad in China.

Manufacturing should not be an issue. If the Chinese are stupid enough to make it an issue, they will be they will be shooting themselves in the head. Apple has strong pull in China and new factories in Brazil. Perhaps it's time to make a deal to move manufacturing back to the good old USA.
post #39 of 72
Quickest solution would be for Tim Cook to stand up on stage at the launch of the iPad3 and say that due to trademark and work condition concerns this might be their last device manufactured in China and that Apple is actively looking at other options for production including discussions with other consumer electronics companies on the best way to introduce industry wide "ethically" manufactured devices, built in America...

20 minutes later the Chinese government will be explaining to Proview why they might be better off just settling for a reasonable amount of money or dropping the case.
post #40 of 72
Honda and other Japanese companies failed in chinese legal battles with products that were copied by local Chinese companies even the logo's were so similar and hard to tell apart. I agree that manufacturing in the US or even pretty much third world NZ ( foxcon into brazil ) would be one of the greatest gifts back to the american people right now any job is better than no job.
Foxcon has built so much up just for the manufacture of apple products that I agree with descramble's comment that the govt. would step in.

Look what happened about 10 years ago with the riots in china organized by the govt against Japanese companies who had invested in china , they destroyed supermarkets and businesses ( a japanese restaurant windows smashed and plundered- owned by a local chinese citizen just catering for the Japanese businessmen in china and were all taking pictures outside Japan embassy littered with stuff ( with Sony cybershot's might I add ) when the golden week vacationers started to cancel their holidays to Japan then the govt turned around and said all rioters will be hunted down please Japan we love you ! . Too late that year very few vacationed in china from Japan and most stayed home and spent money at home .

Even in NZ the leading electrical stores sell cheap knock offs of Apple gear I am sure they are copyrighted and patented but still they look so identical. Chinese manufactures will knock out copies quicker than apple can get the next design out.
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AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPad › Apple struggles in iPad trademark dispute in China as authorities seize units