The Economic Times of India, Penn Olson, Ifeng.com, DigiCha and China.com.cn are all reporting that Chinese authorities in the city of Shijiazhuang have begun confiscating iPads because of the ongoing Proview trademark litigation. Proview, you’ll recall, is suing Apple over its I-PAD trademark and hopes to receive up to $ 1.5B for the name.
As Penn Olson points out, the confiscations are in one city and so far just on 3rd party retailer. However the action has forced other retailers to take iPads off the shelves, though they can still be purchased if asked for. However, this latest action might be a sign of thing to come…
Beijing-based Tech/IP lawyer Stan Abrams, who predicted this a week ago, has lots of interesting things to say on the case: Specifically, Apple is in a bad position in this because the trademark is pretty clear. Apple didn’t do its homework when buying its the iPad trademark from Proview in 2006 and didn’t get the rights to China that it assumed it was getting.
In 2006 Proview agreed to sell the global iPad trademark to US-based IP Application Development (IPAD) for £35,000 ($ 55,104), at which time Proview didn’t know had connections to Apple. The Chinese trademarks, filed as far back as 2000, were apparently not included in that agreement, leading Apple and IP Application Development to sue Proview.
In October, Proview chairman Yang Rongshan had this to say about the case:
It is arrogant of Apple to just ignore our rights and go ahead selling the iPad in this market, and we will oppose that,” Mr Yang said. “Besides that, we are in big financial trouble and the trademarks are a valuable asset that could help us sort out part of that trouble.