By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 21, 2012 01:24 PM EDT
On Monday, April 16, Apple announced it will launch its third-generation iPad in 21 additional countries this month, but China is not one of them. However, things could change as Apple and Proview have been urged by a Chinese court to settle the bitter trademark dispute over the 'iPad' name.
Starting April 20, Apple's new iPad will launch in South Korea, Malaysia, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and eight more countries. A week later, on April 27, the iPad will be available in Colombia, Estonia, India, Israel and five other countries.
However, when it comes to China, Apple is still trying to resolve a legal dispute over the iPad trademark. In a bid to get the companies to settle their dispute, a Chinese court is now mediating talks between Apple and Proview Technology, the Taiwanese company seeking to bad iPad sales in China.
"On the one hand, we are trying to process this case, and on the other, we are working on encouraging both sides to settle," Zhao Le, an official at the foreign affairs office of the Higher People's Court of Guangdong, told Bloomberg Business Week. According to Bloomberg, Zhao had no further information on the effort.
Last year, a lower court ruling said that Proview owned the iPad trademark in China. On Feb.29, the Higher People's Court of Guangdong heard Apple's appeal against that ruling. Display manufacturer Proview has filed separate complaints, claiming that Apple's sale of iPad tablets in China infringed intellectual property laws.
Trying to Get Both Sides to Settle
"We started work, through the mediation of the court, on trying to get both sides to settle," Proview attorney Roger Xie told Bloomberg. He added that Chinese courts typically initiate mediation proceedings, giving litigants a chance to settle before issuing rulings. The talks are voluntary.
Apple claims to have bought the iPad trademark from Proview back in 2009. Proview, on the other hand, claims no such deal was made. According to a statement made earlier this year by a Proview representative, the Taiwanese company wanted Apple to pay $400 million for the iPad trademarks for China. If Apple were to lose this case, it could be forced to pay large fines and be banned from selling the iPad in China.
Zhao Zhanling, a legal expert on China's information technology law, believes that agreeing to such voluntary talks indicates both Apple and Proview are willing to compromise, Mac World reports. "I think there is some hope the talks will lead to a resolution," said Zhao, adding that the higher court will be forced to make a ruling if the negotiations fail. According to analysts, the fact that Apple's new iPad has not yet become available in China could be linked to this ongoing legal battle with Proview.
Proview's Case in the U.S.
The Taiwanese company also filed a case in the United States, claiming that Apple acted "with oppression, fraud and/or malice" by using an intermediary company to handle the trademark purchase and by failing to disclose that the iPad name was destined for Apple's now wildly popular tablet. Apple reportedly used IP Application Development as an intermediary for the trademark purchase.
In response to these claims, Apple accused Proview of intentionally spreading false information about the trademark dispute, reported Mac Observer. Apple threatened legal action if the false claims did not stop.
(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Dave Clark)
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