Apple pays $60m to settle iPad trademark dispute in China

Apple is to pay $60m to Chinese electronics firm Proview Technology to settle a long-running dispute over rights to the "iPad" name

Apple has agreed to pay $60m to Chinese electronics firm Proview Technology to settle a long-running dispute over rights to the "iPad" name.

Apple bought worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 2009 for $55,000 from Proview's Taiwanese affiliate, which had previously registered the name "iPad" in ten countries, including China.

But, Proview claimed that its Taiwanese subsidiary had no right to sell the rights to the name in China and accused Apple of trademark infringement in October 2010.

As a result of the dispute, the products were pulled off the shelves in some parts of China. Proview sought a ban on sales of the iPad in Shanghai, but the move was rejected by the courts.

Although Apple won its first court battle against Proview in Hong Kong, a mainland Chinese court later sided with Proview, prompting Apple to appeal.

But the court in Guangdong asked the two firms to try to reach a settlement. 

In a statement issued today, the court said: "The iPad dispute resolution is ended. Apple has transferred $60m to the account of the Guangdong High Court as requested in the mediation letter."

Lawyers for Proview confirmed the agreement and said both sides were satisfied, according to the BBC. China's national trademark authority is expected to transfer the iPad trademark for China to Apple within a week.

Analysts said it was likely that Apple agreed to settle the dispute to avoid the risk of losing market share to competitors through disruptions to iPad sales in China.

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There would seem to be a lesson in all this for the legislators and regulators. The speculative claiming and hoarding of names, logos and marks for use on products and on the internet by individuals or firms, who have no demonstrable connection with or use for the names at the time of registering them, should be banned. This is now a trade. Lawyers costs can be extremely high in a dispute, and small owners of trade names cannot afford to enter into disputes even when they would have a good case. International agreement to stop this speculation is now urgent.