Apple’s iPad trademark dispute, previously limited to China, has crossed the ocean and landed in Santa Clara, Calif.
Proview International Holdings, which has been suing Apple in Chinese courts over the name of its tablet, filed a lawsuit Friday in a California court seeking to halt shipments of Apple’s iPad to China.
A Taiwan-based Proview branch sold Apple the rights to the “IPAD” name in December 2009. In the U.S. lawsuit, Proview claims that deal should be invalidated because an Apple affiliate made “false” claims during the negotiation process. According to Proview’s filing to the California Superior Court, Proview says that an employee of that affiliate used another person’s name while moving to purchase the “IPAD” trademark for approximately $55,000.
“This statement was false and untrue,” said the filing, according to Bloomberg. Proview is seeking an unknown amount of damages from Apple.
Separately, Proview has asked China’s Customs Bureau to stop imports and exports of Apple’s iPad.
Proview once manufactured an “IPAD,” or Internet Personal Access Device. According to Apple, the company purchased the rights to use that name in 10 countries, including China. Proview holds that mainland China was never part of the deal, and has sued Apple in multiple Chinese courts to force Apple to stop selling its iPad in that country.
Apple has criticized Proview for failing to hold up its side of the arrangement. Apple also claims that Proview, which is struggling economically, is currently unable to produce and market its “IPAD,” voiding its claim to the copyright.
A Hong Kong court decided in Apple’s favor, but rulings in that city don’t apply to the rest of China. A separate court in Shenzhen sided with Proview, and Apple is appealing that decision. Yet another court in Shanghai is playing wait-and-see with the Shenzhen appeals court before proceeding further.
In China, Apple could face government fines of up to $38 million, while Proview is seeking as much as $1.6 billion in damages.
On Proview’s request, local authorities have removed Apple iPads from store shelves in some Chinese cities. However, iPads are still selling as quickly as ever in cities where they remain available. China is an extremely lucrative marketplace for Apple, and its iPad makes up more than 70 percent of tablet sales in the country.
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