Apple's iPad Trademark Battle Hits U.S. Shores

Proview Electronics has brought its legal battle against Apple to the U.S., accusing the company of using deceptive practices to acquire the iPad trademark.

Proview is asking for damages and for Apple to permanently stop using the iPad trademark, according to documents filed with the Superior Court of California for the County of Santa Clara. Proview, which is struggling financially, is accusing Apple of fraudulently acquiring trademarks through a shell company called IP Application Development Ltd.

Proview is already in a protracted legal battle with Apple on the iPad trademark in China, and on Feb. 17 said the legal battle could spill over to the U.S.

Proview owns the iPad trademark in China and has asked courts there to bar Apple from selling the iPad tablet in the country. A Proview request for a legal injunction that would have forced Apple to halt iPad sales in its Shanghai stores was rejected earlier this week, while Proview won a battle in December in which a court in Shenzhen rejected Apple's claims to the iPad trademark. That decision is being appealed by Apple in the Guangdong provincial high court, with a hearing scheduled for next week.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment. According to the documents, the defendants listed include IP Application Development, a U.K. company that Proview alleged was established by Apple with the sole purpose of acquiring the trademark to use for the iPad tablet. The company name was "deliberately chosen" because its abbreviation is iPad, according to the court filing.

Apple acted with oppression, fraud and malice, Proview said in the court filing. Proview is also seeking to cancel an agreement that transferred the iPad trademark to IP Application Development in 2009.

Proview offered an Internet appliance called iPad after acquiring the trademark in several countries between 2000 and 2003. However, the company fell on rough financial times due to the global economic crisis and after two top customers, Polaroid and Circuit City, filed for bankruptcy in the second half of 2008, according to the court filing.

In 2009, Apple registered IP Application Development, which acquired the iPad trademark in December of that year for £35,000 (US$41,335) with the promise not to use it to compete against Proview's products. IP Application Development ultimately transferred the trademark to Apple, which launched the iPad to much fanfare in 2010.

Proview is accusing Apple of fraud and intentional misrepresentation of facts to acquire the trademark, according to the court filing.

Subscribe to the Best of PCWorld Newsletter

Comments