New comments from Proview Technology show that the company thinks it is “likely” to settle with Apple out of court in the iPad trademark feud between the two firms. While Apple has been vigorously fighting Proview’s claims in China, a Proview attorney told the AP that the company always expected to settle with Apple.
The case involves the mainland China rights to the name “IPAD,” a trademark Proview registered in the year 2000. Apple bought the rights from Proview in 2009, using a third party company set up for the transaction, but Proview then claimed that deal didn’t include the rights to mainland China.
That began a lawsuit that Apple lost. The company appealed the loss, however, arguing that documents and other information had been hidden from the lower court. The Guangdong High Court in southern China accepted the appeal, where it’s been since late February.
Earlier in April, the two companies reportedly entered negotiations, but the new comments suggest that Proview, at least, thinks a settlement is likely.
“It is likely that we will settle out of court. The Guangdong High Court is helping to arrange it and the court also expects to do so,” Ma Dongxiao told the AP.
He added, “Actually Proview always expected to settle out of court from the beginning. I don’t know if Apple has changed its attitude, but I believe that the key point now is the price.”
Mr. Ma’s last point, that the key point now is price, is at the heart of the issue. Proview was paid US$55,000 for the iPad rights in the original deal, but the company didn’t know it was dealing with Apple, a company that had more than $40 billion in the bank in 2009 when the deal was being worked out.
Proview was once a high flying electronics company in China, a firm that was built on LCD displays. When a decision to expand operations ran into the unforgiving reality of the 2008 economic downturn, Proview collapsed and filed for bankruptcy protection.
Now the company owes creditors throughout Asia and Apple believes Proview is merely being opportunistic. In a statement, Apple told the AP that, “[Proview] still owe[s] 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.”
Whether or not that indicates that Apple is now willing to settle remains to be seen.