New details have emerged in the ongoing battle between Apple and Proview, the Chinese company holding the rights to the iPad name in mainland China. According to new statements from Proview, the company hopes to expand its ban of iPad sales to cover much of the country.
In a revealing interview with Reuters, the executive and legal team from Proview shed some more light on the skirmish that has many wondering if Apple will have to change the name of the iPad in China.
In addition to Shijiazhuang, the area where the first reports of confiscated iPads emerged, the company has also asked for a similar crackdown on iPad sales in 20 other cities. "We will be asking commerce departments of more cities to investigate and deal with the case accordingly," Proview legal representative Roger Xie said.
Proview executive Yang Long-san said, "We have applied to some local customs for the ban and they'll report to the headquarters in Beijing." However, Yang expressed some doubt about the true effectiveness of such a ban saying, "The customs have told us that it will be difficult to implement a ban because many Chinese consumers love Apple products. The sheer size of the market is very big."
And while these comments are essentially in line with the public's understanding of Proview's position, it seems Yang may have inadvertently revealed the true nature of the legal tussle, as they see it. In the run-up to the next Apple versus Proview hearing, Yang told the interviewer he believes the best outcome would be an out-of-court settlement. Back in December, a representative for Proview told reporters that the company would seek $1.6 billion in compensation related to the disputed trademark infringement.
But, according to Carolyn Wu, Apple's spokesperson in China, Apple still believes it has a case. In a statement to Businessweek, Wu said, "Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China… Our case is still pending in mainland China."
Yang claims the legal dispute isn't about money, but with $1.6 billion at stake, such public statements from a company known to be in dire financial straits might seem to stretch the limits of credibility. Perhaps further chipping away at that credibility is Yang's statement regarding the iPad itself. Referring to a supposedly similar product for which the iPad name was designated by Proview in 2000, Yang said, "We spent a lot of resources on it. It's the same concept as the iPad today, except that back then, there were practically no LCD screens."
Asking the public to believe that Proview, a largely unknown display company, was poised to unveil the original iPad back in 2000 is not an argument likely to win many believers. Fortunately, for Proview, the matter isn't in the public's hands. The next court hearing related to the case will occur on Feb. 22, when we'll learn the true fate of the Apple iPad in China.