A prepared statement read by Apple spokesperson Carolyn Wu alleges that Proview International Holding Ltd. fashioned the sale of the iPad name so that ownership of the Chinese trademark could later be questioned in court, and accuses the Hong Kong-based company of unfairly seeking more money for the same transaction, reports the Wall Street Journal.
"Proview clearly made that arrangement so they wouldn't have to give the money to their creditors in" mainland China, Wu said. "Because they still owe a lot of people a lot of money, they are now unfairly trying to get more from Apple for a trademark we already paid for."
Proview's Shenzhen arm, which is asserting ownership of the trademark, has accrued an estimated $400 million in debt after being part of a lucrative display-manufacturing business. At its peak Proview had 18,000 employees under its purview, though the global financial crisis has slowly edged the company toward bankruptcy.
Apple purchased the rights to the "iPAD" moniker in 2009 through a Taiwan affiliate of Proview, with the contract covering trademarks registered in a number of countries including two in China. At the time, the name was technically owned by Proview's Shenzhen subsidiary, Proview Technology Shenzhen Co.
Wu claims that Apple was urged to purchase the rights, but "didn't know the reasons at the time" as to why the deal had to be made through Proview's Taiwan affiliate.
In October 2010, Proview threatened to take legal action against Apple, claiming that the 2009 "global trademark" agreement did not include China. The Chinese company went on to pursue litigation against Apple in multiple courts, including a suit in California, claiming that it still owned the name.
Making the matter more confusing are fraud and unfair competition allegations from Proview claiming that Apple conducted its fair share of chicanery in buying the trademark through a U.K.-based proxy company for a reported $55,000.
Proview's attorney Xiao Caiyuan denies Apple's Tuesday claims and believes the computer giant knew exactly what it was doing.
"The fact is that Apple's former lawyer made a silly mistake," Xiao said. "Proview still thinks both sides can solve the dispute by peaceful talks."
The case continues to drag on in the shadow of the release of Apple's newest iPad, and is currently being argued in China's high court in Guangdong.
[ View article on AppleInsider ]