Chinese Government: Proview Owns Rights to Apple iPad Trademark

Apple in ChinaA Chinese government official told reporters on Tuesday that in the view of his government, Proview Technology (or Shenzhen Proview) is the rightful owner of the “IPAD” trademark in China. The official’s warning suggests that Apple may have additional pressure to settle with the firm that has claimed in court that it never sold those rights to Apple in mainland China.

The comments came from one Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration, according to an AP story picked up by Fox News (some news outlets are erroneously attributing the reporting to Fox News itself). In those comments, Mr. Yan said, “According to our government’s laws, Shenzhen Proview is still the lawful representative and user of the trademark.”

Due to his position at the National Copyright Administration, his opinion likely carries weight, and his comments could be taken as encouragement from the Chinese government for Apple to knuckle under and pay Proview an additional sum of money for those rights.

Apple claims it bought the rights in a deal with a Proview subsidiary based in Taiwan. Proview itself said that this subsidiary never owned the rights to the “IPAD” trademark in mainland China, and thus was not in a position to sell them. Apple has argued in court that this is not true, and that the deal included the mainland rights.

“The dispute between Apple and Shenzhen Proview concerning the iPad trademark is going through the judicial process,” Mr. Yan said in the news conference. “Given the wide implications of this case we need to wait to see the final ruling of the court, which will decide the ownership rights for the trademark. We will proceed with the case in a prudent manner.”

The imbroglio began when Proview sued Apple in China, 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.