News / Economy

Chinese High Court Hears Apple's iPad Appeal

A court hearing into Apple Inc.'s trademark battle with Chinese tech company Proview Electronics concluded Wednesday in the Chinese province of Guangdong. Proview insists it holds the rights to the iPad name in China, even though Apple claims it purchased ownership of the trademark in 2009.  The copyright battle comes at a crucial time for Apple.

Apple is gearing up for another big product launch March 7. That's when industry insiders say Apple will launch its third generation iPad.  But the launch may not go as smoothly if little known Asian tech company, Proview has its way.

Heading into court Wednesday, Proview lawyer Xie Xianghui said he was confident Apple's latest appeal to use the iPad trademark in China would be thrown out.

"Apple has not provided much new evidence.  They are just using some evidence they have submitted in the Hongkong courts and resubmitting it as evidence in the local Chinese courts," he said,

Apple won a minor victory last week after a Shanghai court threw out Proview's request to suspend sales of iPads in that city.  But Shenzhen lawyer Xiao Caiyuan says Proview is fighting the world's biggest company on principle.  Of course, he says they're willing to settle if the amount is right.

"Regarding the trademark right, this is very clear on the ownership.  It is non-negotiable on this matter.  However, if Apple wants to legally obtain permission to use the trademark, or own the trademark by legal transfer, and it can provide a basket of proposals on settling the case outside court, we would not refuse it," Xiao Caiyuan said.

Proview claims the 2009 trademark transfer was unauthorized and does not apply to the mainland.

But some see the copyright battle as a money-grab by a debt-laden company.  Apple's legal team adds that Proview, which is nearly bankrupt - has no product, no markets, no customers or suppliers.

Apple argues a ruling against it would harm consumer interests in China and cause confusion in the marketplace.

The iPad dominates the tablet PC market with a 76 percent market share in China.

A final decision by the high court is expected to take several weeks.

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