Proview believes that it owns the trademark for “IPAD” in China, while Apple believes it purchased the rights to that trademark in 2009. Proview has argued that the purchase did not include the rights in mainland China, while Apple has countered with what it says is proof that Proview participated in the negotiations for just that.
As the two companies have battled back and forth on that issue on the national level, Proview has sought to increase pressure on Apple by securing local bans on the iPad in individual Chinese cities. If it could achieve that goal in Shanghai, it could cause some real annoyance for Apple.
The Shanghai case is being held in the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court, where a local law firm called Guangdong Shendadi is representing Apple. Reuters reported that Hu Jinnan, a partner in the firm, told the court, “Proview has no product, no markets, no customers and no suppliers. It has nothing.”
He said that Apple on the other hand, “has huge sales in China. Its fans line up to buy Apple products. The ban, if executed, would not only hurt Apple sales but it would also hurt China’s national interest.”
All of this appears to be new territory in China. We have a massive multinational company, Apple, whose outsourced manufacturing employees hundreds of thousands of people in China. We also have a local technology firm fallen on hard times, Proview, which was once a high-flyer in China but declared bankruptcy in 2010.
We also have multinational trademarks, Apple’s ability to effectively throw unlimited funds at fighting its court cases, and a trademark deal that involved an English holding company set up by Apple to buy these trademark rights for multiple countries from a Taiwanese branch office of Proview’s in Taiwan.
Add to that a Chinese legal system that is evolving as fast as it can to keep up with an economy that is evolving faster still, with a one-party political system trying to cope with a capitalist economy whose roots have command economy origins.
On top of that, the parts of this particular case that have made their way out to our part of the globe include a lot of he said, she said components.
In other words, round and round this case goes, and where it will stop, nobody knows!