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

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 
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 ]
post #2 of 80
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.
post #3 of 80
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.
post #4 of 80
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.
post #5 of 80
"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.
post #6 of 80
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.

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post #7 of 80
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.
post #8 of 80
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.
post #9 of 80
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.
post #10 of 80
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 thingin my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launchedthey 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 bullyfor the moment.
post #11 of 80
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
post #12 of 80
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 thingin my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launchedthey 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 bullyfor 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.
post #13 of 80
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,
post #14 of 80
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.)
post #15 of 80
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)?
post #16 of 80
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 thingin my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launchedthey 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 bullyfor 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.
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post #17 of 80
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 thingin my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launchedthey 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 bullyfor 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?
post #18 of 80
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.
post #19 of 80
How many times do we need to see a screenshot of Proview's home page?
post #20 of 80
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.
post #21 of 80
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.
post #22 of 80
is there an echo in here? lol
post #23 of 80
To me, its simple: Apple told a lie to gain a monetary advantage.

Several lies, actually.

Now, you can tell me that, "Proview shoulda know'd better", or that such "deception" is commonplace and predictable, or that China cheats all the time in various ways...
Really, you amateur lawyers aren't much better than the real ones.

I'm less concerned with what is illegal than with what is dishonest. And Apple was clearly dishonest here.

Its unfortunate that "legal and illegal" so often don't coincide with "honest and dishonest", or with "right and wrong". I suppose we can thank lawyers for exploiting that fully, but that doesn't mean its something to be proud of.
post #24 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by boredumb View Post

To me, its simple: Apple told a lie to gain a monetary advantage.

Several lies, actually.

Now, you can tell me that, "Proview shoulda know'd better", or that such "deception" is commonplace and predictable, or that China cheats all the time in various ways...
Really, you amateur lawyers aren't much better than the real ones.

I'm less concerned with what is illegal than with what is dishonest. And Apple was clearly dishonest here.

Its unfortunate that "legal and illegal" so often don't coincide with "honest and dishonest", or with "right and wrong". I suppose we can thank lawyers for exploiting that fully, but that doesn't mean its something to be proud of.

What lie did Apple tell? If you're going to accuse Apple of lying, you'd better be able to point to a specific lie - unless you want to deal with libel charges.

IPAD (the company) reached an agreement to pay $55 K to Proview for the rights to the name 'iPad' in 10 countries. They did so. Then they later sold the trademark to Apple. No lies at all.

If anyone's lying, it would be Proview. Read the Hong Kong decision where it is clear that Yang was operating in bad faith and with intent to defraud Apple.
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post #25 of 80
Or any one of a number of other options for China?

aPad (Apple iPad)
uyiPad (Up Yours iPad)
sosuemeiPad
The Pad
aniPad

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post #26 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by boredumb View Post

To me, its simple: Apple told a lie to gain a monetary advantage.

Several lies, actually.

Now, you can tell me that, "Proview shoulda know'd better", or that such "deception" is commonplace and predictable, or that China cheats all the time in various ways...
Really, you amateur lawyers aren't much better than the real ones.

I'm less concerned with what is illegal than with what is dishonest. And Apple was clearly dishonest here.

Its unfortunate that "legal and illegal" so often don't coincide with "honest and dishonest", or with "right and wrong". I suppose we can thank lawyers for exploiting that fully, but that doesn't mean its something to be proud of.

You think it's "honest" for provide to demand $2 billion now? Do you feel that apple has made 2 billion on the iPad because people thought they were buying a privies product? Or that provide lost $2 billion from sales of their defunct product because apple was selling the iPad?

Why is it "honest" for proview to ask for 400x more money from apple for use of the name iPad than another company? I don't see how you're using ethics to defend proviews position here.
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post #27 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

What lie did Apple tell? If you're going to accuse Apple of lying, you'd better be able to point to a specific lie - unless you want to deal with libel charges.

IPAD (the company) reached an agreement to pay $55 K to Proview for the rights to the name 'iPad' in 10 countries. They did so. Then they later sold the trademark to Apple. No lies at all.

If anyone's lying, it would be Proview. Read the Hong Kong decision where it is clear that Yang was operating in bad faith and with intent to defraud Apple.

His opinion is clearly that since Apple didn't go to Proview and say we want to buy your iPad trademarks that they were therefore dishonest. It's total nonsense, but that's what he means.
post #28 of 80
In the 1960's Disney bought 20,000 acres of land in Florida (through a differently-named business entity) that became Disneyworld. They used a different business entity to prevent land owners from jacking up the price if they knew it was Disney doing the buying. This was perfectly legal.

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post #29 of 80
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 thingin my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launchedthey 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 bullyfor the moment.

The only value came after Apple used the name. Before that it was worth what?? $55,000.
post #30 of 80
This is common business practice. Get over it Proview.
post #31 of 80
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 thingin my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launchedthey 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 bullyfor the moment.

I completely agree with you . . . if Proview and Apple are a couple of 5 year olds in kindergarten. But they are both multinational corporations and so pre-school norms of conduct don't apply here.
post #32 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

If anyone's lying, it would be Proview. Read the Hong Kong decision where it is clear that Yang was operating in bad faith and with intent to defraud Apple.

You don't know it was fraud. It could have been a mistake.

It amounts to the same thing as far as the expected outcome, but the distinction is real neverthless.

Apple is in big trouble because they did not buy the Chinese trademark from the company who owned it. They should have confirmed ownership with the public trademark registry in each country. For whatever reason, Apple bought the Chinese trademark from a company that did not own it.

Fraud or mistake - it amounts to the same thing: Apple did not buy the Chinese trademark from the owner of the Chinese trademark.
post #33 of 80
repeat, oops
post #34 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

You don't know it was fraud. It could have been a mistake.

Really? Yang just accidentally did a lengthy negotiation and signed papers transferring the trademark and he didn't know that the bank had told him not to do that?

You really need to read the Hong Kong decision. Yang's behavior was reprehensible and it's amazing that even an inveterate Apple hater like you would pretend that it was accidental.

Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

It amounts to the same thing as far as the expected outcome, but the distinction is real neverthless.

Apple is in big trouble because they did not buy the Chinese trademark from the company who owned it. They should have confirmed ownership with the public trademark registry in each country. For whatever reason, Apple bought the Chinese trademark from a company that did not own it.

Fraud or mistake - it amounts to the same thing: Apple did not buy the Chinese trademark from the owner of the Chinese trademark.

That hasn't been determined. The Hong Kong court ruled that Apple DID buy the trademark. AFAIK, there are no other court decisions on that particular issue.
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post #35 of 80
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.

Indeed. Given that they don't have to give any reason at all, Apple would have been really foolish to maintain that the IP they were after was for anything specific despite the name of the company doing the buying.

It will come down to whether it's actually true or not whether Apple misrepresented their intentions, but it's important to remember that we only have Proview's word for the fact that this misrepresentation happened and they have been caught lying a few times already.
post #36 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

The Hong Kong court ruled that Apple DID buy the trademark.

No, they didn't.

Ownership of the Chinese trademark was not even in contention in Hong Kong. Look at Paragraph 1 which explains what apple asked for. Look at the appendix which clearly sets forth what the court granted.

Or, as an easier task, find a third-party analysis which states that the Hong Kong court ruled that Apple bought the Chinese trademark. None exist.
post #37 of 80
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 thingin my view, for what it's worth, because Apple needed to maintain secrecy before the product was launchedthey 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 bullyfor the moment.

I disagree. At the time Apple had not launched the iPad and it was not proven it will be a hit. Also at the time Proview no longer use the I.P.A.D trademark and because the IPAD was not even a PC, it probably was DOA. $50,000 was just for the trademark name, not domain name, and nothing else. It was a fair price for just the name. I'm sure Proview could probably get more, but trying to extort money from Apple says a lot about the real character and the desperate situation for a failed business in China.
post #38 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

No, they didn't.

Ownership of the Chinese trademark was not even in contention in Hong Kong. Look at Paragraph 1 which explains what apple asked for. Look at the appendix which clearly sets forth what the court granted.

Or, as an easier task, find a third-party analysis which states that the Hong Kong court ruled that Apple bought the Chinese trademark. None exist.

Really? Did you even read the decision?

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...h_proview.html

Quote:
The Wall Street Journal uncovered a "not previously reported" court decision from the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region last July that upheld Apple's claim to the iPad trademark in mainland China.

"The court said Proview had breached an earlier agreement to transfer the iPad name to Apple," the report noted.

Court documents stated that Proview had elected not to transfer the mark after the deal was made and instead asked Apple to pay $10 million for it. The ruling determined that Proview, its subsidiaries and another company had conspired against Apple by breaching the government. The company was found to have "attempted to exploit the situation as a business opportunity," according to the documents.

"It is accordingly important that (Apple) is able to secure and obtain the China trademarks," the decision read.

Sounds pretty clear - the Hong Kong court determined that the trademark belongs to Apple.

Now, one can certainly argue that until all the appeals are done that nothing is binding, but your attempts to rewrite history to support your "Apple is always wrong" view just don't fly. The Hong Kong court was very clear.
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post #39 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

Really? Did you even read the decision?

http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...h_proview.html



Sounds pretty clear - the Hong Kong court determined that the trademark belongs to Apple.

Now, one can certainly argue that until all the appeals are done that nothing is binding, but your attempts to rewrite history to support your "Apple is always wrong" view just don't fly. The Hong Kong court was very clear.

From the same article you quote:

Quote:
"It is accordingly important that (Apple) is able to secure and obtain the China trademarks," the decision read.

Your position is that Apple has already secured and obtained the the China trademark. The court said that such an event has not happened, but SHOULD happen.

The court did NOT say "It is accordingly important that Apple has already secured and obtained [past tense] the China trademarks."

They speak about what should happen. That is why they preserved the status quo with injunctions until such time as the underlying issue is fully and fairly tried.

Quote:
Court documents stated that Proview had elected not to transfer the mark ... The ruling determined that Proview, its subsidiaries and another company had conspired against Apple by breaching the government.

Pretty clear. Proview breached. Proview did not transfer the Chinese trademark, despite their prior agreement to do so.
post #40 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by I am a Zither Zather Zuzz View Post

From the same article you quote:



Your position is that Apple has already secured and obtained the the China trademark. The court said that such an event has not happened, but SHOULD happen.

The court did NOT say "It is accordingly important that Apple has already secured and obtained [past tense] the China trademarks."

They speak about what should happen. That is why they preserved the status quo with injunctions until such time as the underlying issue is fully and fairly tried.



Pretty clear. Proview breached. Proview did not transfer the Chinese trademark, despite their prior agreement to do so.

The court order was clear. Proview had agreed to transfer the mark and had been paid to do so and was ordered to follow through.

Basically, it's as if you bought a car from a car dealer and they never transferred the title. You own the car, but don't have a title to prove it. It's a pretty simple technicality to clear up.
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