Did you know there was a tablet computer called the I-Pad nearly a decade ago? It was marketed by a Taiwanese company called Proview Technology, though it wasn’t quite as successful as the “iPad” you may be more familiar with.
Proview reportedly registered trademarks for the IPAD name in the EU, China, Mexico, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam in the early 2000’s.
A few months ago, Proview sought to sue Apple for trademark infringement in China and the U.S. The Financial Times had a conversation with Proview Chairman Yang Rongshan back then, who said that the company agreed to sell “global trademark” for the name to a US-registered company called IP Application Development, but didn’t realize that the company was linked to Apple. According to that conversation, Yang indicated the trademarks for China weren’t included, as they were filed by a different Proview affiliate out of Hong Kong (in 2000).
Now, the Financial Times is reporting that a Chinese court has rejected Apple’s claim of ownership of the iPad trademark, which could present some problems with selling in China, where it has a handful of retail stores and about a thousand resellers.
Now consider that when Apple reported its Q4 earnings in October, CEO Tim Cook emphasized that China continues to be the company’s fastest-growing market. In the country, sales were up nearly four times year-over-year, accounting for a sixth of Apple’s overall sales.
“It’s an area of enormous opportunity…The sky’s the limit in there,” Cook was quoted as saying on the earnings call.
It looks like the legal system might be at least partially limiting at the moment.