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Apple may be forced to rename iPad in China after court ruling

A Chinese court says another company registered the ‘iPad’ name in 2000 – meaning Apple may be forced to rename the unit there.

A general view of an ‘Apple Store’ in Kunming, which was found not to be an Apple Store at all. Apple itself now faces a hefty bill for unauthorised use of the 'iPad' name in China.
A general view of an ‘Apple Store’ in Kunming, which was found not to be an Apple Store at all. Apple itself now faces a hefty bill for unauthorised use of the 'iPad' name in China.
Image: ZPRESS/ChinaFotoPress

APPLE MAY BE forced to rename its popular iPad tablet for sales in China, after a court there rejected a lawsuit taken by the manufacturer against another company for trademark infringement.

Apple had taken legal action at a court in Shenzhen, claiming that a local company Proview Technology was infringing its ‘iPad’ trademark.

The court rejected Apple’s claim, however – instead ruling that Proview was in fact the owner of the trademark, having registered it over a decade ago.

The court found that Proview’s sister company in Taiwan had registered the trademark in 2000, with the Shenzhen branch registering it on the Chinese mainland in 2001.

While Apple had paid Proview Taipei for the right to use the iPad name in 2009, it had not sought a similar deal with its Shenzhen sister company to use the trademark on the mainland.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua said Apple had paid around $54,000 for the Taiwan usage of the name – but may now be asked to shell out $1.6 billion in retrospective compensation for using it in mainland China.

While such a bill would not necessarily make much of a dent in Apple’s finances – the company is famously cash-rich, and has difficulty managing its enormous cash reserves – it would be a major boost to Proview Shenzhen.

That company, Xinhua said, is on the brink of bankruptcy as a result of debts incurred in the global financial crisis.

A representative from the company’s examiner said Apple’s “copy infringement is very clear”.

“The laws are still there, and they sell their products in defiance of laws. The more products they sell, the more they need to compensate.”

Gallery: Here’s the Apple store selling iPhones and iPads that’s actually a fake >

Read: Remember that fake Apple store? China’s found 22 more – in ONE city >

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Gavan Reilly

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