China’s Proview has ramped up its battle with Apple over the iPad trademark, saying it’s now seeking global rights to the name.
It says a deal it signed in 2009 to transfer the iPad name to a company owned by Apple was invalid, meaning it should retain the rights to the name in the EU, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
At issue is the way Apple secured Proview’s agreement. Proview actually sold the name to a company called IPAD – and, it says, it had no idea that IPAD was actually owned by Apple.
“To further this deception, Apple used an intermediary, Farncombe International and its managing director, Graham Robinson, to create an elaborate but false pretext for the purchase of Proview’s IPAD trademarks,” says Proview.
“Apple created a special purpose company named IP Application Development Limited (IPAD Ltd), then concealed the fact that this company was acting as an agent of Apple. Graham Robinson further concealed Apple’s involvement by adopting a false alias, Jonathan Hargreaves, which he used when negotiating with Proview.”
Proview’s now amended the lawsuit it filed recently in New York to include the new claims. Along with having the trademark deal declared invalid, it wants compensation and a share of Apple’s profits from the iPad name so far.
“While some technology companies create special purpose vehicles in order to obtain trademarks, in this case the sole function of Apple’s special purpose vehicle was intentional misrepresentation, and an effort to fraudulently induce Proview Taiwan into a sale of the IPAD trademarks,” says Proview spokesman Cal Kenney.
“Proview Taiwan had concerns about the purchaser’s intentions, and was very diligent in trying to understand the facts surrounding its interest in Proview Taiwan’s IPAD trademarks. But even careful diligence is ineffective when the counterparty is engaging in intentional fraud.”
If the intention of the lawsuit is to persuade Apple to settle, it doesn’t seem to be working so far. Apple’s said it plans to fight on. It’s threatened to sue Proview itself, for making misleading statements about the deal.