One of the wealthiest companies in the world, Apple Inc., finds itself in a trademark battle for one of its best-known (if not weakest) trademarks: iPad.
The dispute centers on whether Apple acquired the iPad name in China when it bought rights in various countries from a Proview affiliate in Taiwan in 2009 for 35,000 British pounds ($55,000). Proview, once one of the biggest technology manufacturers in China, is now bankrupt.
Shenzhen Proview Technology has asked regulators to seize iPads in China in a possible prelude to pressing Apple Inc. for a payout. There have been seizures in some cities but no sign of action by national-level authorities.
Chinese news reports say Proview is deeply in debt, increasing the pressure for it to demand a substantial payout from Apple. Proview International, meanwhile, has been suspended from trading on the Hong Kong stock market since August 2010 and will be removed in June if it cannot show it has sufficient assets, business operations and working capital.
In a rapid-fire series of moves, Proview has filed a trademark-violation lawsuit that goes to court Wednesday in Shanghai.
That deadline is likely to prompt Apple to agree to a settlement within a few days to avoid the uncertainty of a court fight, said Kenny Wong, an intellectual property lawyer for the firm Mayer Brown JSM in Hong Kong.
“I think Apple will be under immense pressure to have this settled as soon as possible,” he said. “Obviously, it depends on the amount the Shenzhen company is asking.”