Taiwanese company sends $1.5b threat to Apple over iPad name

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A contract manufacturer of monitors from Taiwan has threatened Apple with a potential lawsuit over the iPad name that could carry damages of up to US$1.5 billion, claiming that the so-called “global trademark” for the popular device does not include China.

The company, Proview, claims that it has kept the rights of the iPad trademark in China, while selling the “global trademark” to Apple – though, it was through a shell company called IP Application Development (IPAD), and Proview did not suspect that it had any links with Apple. This included trademarks in the EU, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

It previously attempted to get into the tablet market with its own “I-Pad” almost a decade ago, but that plan failed to launch.

“We will sue them for damages in China and in the US,” Yang Rongshan, chairman for the company, told the Financial Times. “It is arrogant of Apple to just ignore our rights and go ahead selling the iPad in this market, and we will oppose that.”

Rongshan has also admitted that this move is in order to save it from financial collapse, with creditors already seizing several assets after the company defaulted on its loans that are worth US$400 million.

“Besides that, we are in big financial trouble and the trademarks are a valuable asset that could help us sort out part of that trouble,” he said.

Apple, however, is already gone on the attack with its own lawsuit. It already has success in winning preliminary injunctions that prevent Proview from selling the name, claiming that the 2006 agreement includes China. Proview still currently holds these trademarks.

The iPad name was also used by Fujitsu, but was settled earlier in the year. Apple also had to settle with Cisco in using the iPhone name – but unlike Fujitsu, it was a much more public affair with both companies agreeing to share the name iPhone for their own products.

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