February 24th, 2012
08:10 AM GMT
Hong Kong (CNN) - Proview Electronics - a little known Asia-based company that claims it has rights to the “iPad” trademark in China - has taken its legal battle against Apple to the technology giant’s home turf.
In a lawsuit filed last week in the U.S. Superior Court of California in Santa Clara County, the Taiwan affiliate of Proview International Holdings accuses Apple of deception when it purchased the iPad trademark in 2009, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The suit alleges that one of Apple’s law firms set up a company - IP Application Development Ltd (or IPAD) - to buy the trademark from Proview for $55,000, according to the report.
Apple has maintained the purchase gives it worldwide rights to the trademark; Proview Electronics claims that Apple acted deceptively by hiding its involvement.
Parent Hong Kong-based Proview International Holdings has faced financial difficulties in the last two years, with founder, chairman and CEO Rowell Long-san Yang resigning because of his bankruptcy in 2010.
In the last year, the group - which manufactures and distributes LCD monitors - has been ordered to dispose of the assets of two mainland China subsidiaries to settle claims by creditors.
Yang is now head of Proview Group, according to its website, as well as Proview Technology (Shenzhen), another affiliate, which is fighting Apple in mainland China courts, arguing that it and not the Taiwan affiliate held the iPad trademark for mainland China.
On Wednesday, a Shanghai court rejected a Proview Technology (Shenzhen) request for a sales ban of Apple iPads in the city of 23 million. The court also suspended the Chinese company’s lawsuit against Apple, pending a ruling in yet another court battle – this one in Guangdong.
In the Guangdong case, a lower court had sided with Proview Technology (Shenzhen), finding that iPad sales by Apple and a local branch of Sundan, a major electronic appliance store, were infringing on Proview Technology’s rights. The higher court will next hear Apple’s appeal Wednesday.
Last week AllThingsD, a site owned by Dow Jones, posted documents that included email from a “Proview Technology” representative to Apple’s representative agreeing to the 2009 deal.
In its first quarter results announced last month, Apple reported all-time iPhone, iPad and Mac sales with a record quarterly revenue of $46.33 billion and a record quarterly net profit of $13.06 billion. According to the company, it sold 15.43 million iPads during the quarter, a 111% increase over the same period a year ago.
The iPad and iPhone are manufactured in China. Details of the iPad 3 are expected to be unveiled as early as next month.
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