Proview Scores $60M Settlement in iPad Name Fight

Apple has finally settled its ongoing legal fight with Proview Technology over who owns the rights to the iPad name in China by handing over US$60 million. The payoff brings an end to Proview’s legal battle with Apple, and gives the struggling electronics maker some cash to help pay its mounting debts.

Apple settles iPad trademark dispute with ProviewApple settles iPad trademark dispute with Proview

The fight between the two companies started in 2011 iver who actually owned the trademark on the iPad name in China. Apple claimed it legitimately purchased the rights to the iPad name from Proview before launching its popular multimedia tablet, but Proview said it didn’t authorize any trademark deal.

Proview registered the iPad name in 2000, ten years before Apple’s iPad was released. Apple’s legal team said the company legitimately purchased the worldwide rights for the iPad trademark from Proview International Holdings, although a Chinese court ruled in December 2011 that Apple hadn’t properly filed paperwork in the country, leading Proview to essentially ask to get paid twice for the trademark transfer.

Proview started by demanding US$1.6 billion from Apple, a figure Apple flat-out refused to pay. Apple went on to accuse Proview of lying to the press about the case by saying that Proview Electronics mistakenly sold the iPad name, that it didn’t know about the trademark transfer, and that the trademark rights in China weren’t included in the transaction — which seemed to indicate that Proview did, in fact, have at least some knowledge of the transaction.

The electronics maker also tried to launch a legal fight with Apple in the United States, although a Federal Court judge dismissed that case earlier this year.

While Proview was trying to get Apple to throw some money its way, creditors were trying to get the Taiwan-based company declared bankrupt to collect over due debts. Fubon Insurance was hoping to collect some $8.68 million it was owed from Proview by liquidating company assets.

In April 2012, a Chinese government official said that Proview Technology was still the owner of the iPad name. Yan Xiaohong, deputy director of the National Copyright Administration, said, “According to our government’s laws, Shenzhen Proview is still the lawful representative and user of the trademark.”

Apple eventually offered Proview a $16 million settlement, which the company rejected — most likely because the company needed at least $63 million to pay off its creditors. By no small coincidence, that’s exactly the amount that Proview offered in its counter proposal.

In the end, however, it looks like Proview came up $3 million short since the final deal between the two companies was for a $60 million payoff — and Apple ultimately paid Proview twice for the pleasure of using the iPad name for its multimedia tablet.

[Thanks to the New York Times for the heads up on the settlement]