Trade Marks

A bad Chinese Apple?

July 16, 2012

When Apple, the US consumer electronics company worth US$500 Billion is sued in China over its use of the iPad trade mark in relation to tablet computers, what does this tell us about trade marks in China?

Apple is being accused of trade mark infringement in China because of its use of the iPad trade mark. The details are complex and their meaning is in dispute, but in summary Apple came to an agreement to purchase various trade mark registrations for iPad from a number of parties prior to Apple’s launch of the iPad tablet computer in 2010. One of the parties Apple entered into an agreement with was a Taiwanese company called Proview Electronics Co. Ltd which owned trade marks for iPad in a number of countries. We understand that Apple paid approximately US$40,000, for the various iPad trade marks. However, the Chinese trade marks for iPad were not owned by the Taiwanese company, but by a Chinese company called Proview Technology (Shenzhen) Co.Ltd, which although owned by the same parent company, is a different legal entity to the Taiwanese company. Whilst the trade marks owned by the Taiwanese company were transferred to Apple, the Chinese company has argued (to date successfully) that it still owns the iPad trade marks in China and has taken action against Apple for its use of iPad in China. We understand that Proview Technology (Shenzhen) Co.Ltd, may have offered to sell the Chinese Trade Marks for iPad to Apple for US$400 Million. The dispute between the parties is ongoing. What does the Apple-Proview case tell us? Trade Mark Registrations are valuable and powerful tools for business in China. Trade Mark Registrations are enforceable rights in China. China is a first to file country. Whether you export goods to China or export goods from China, your trade marks need to be registered in China. Chinese IP law and practice is complicated, unforgiving and differs from other jurisdictions. This means that you need to use a firm with a great deal of experience in China. Please contact Kieron Taylor for more details [email protected] or your usual contact at Swindell & Pearson Ltd.

Swindell & Pearson has been helping businesses and individuals protect and defend their ideas, innovations and brands for over 130 years. With its head office in Derby, the firm also has offices in Stoke, Wolverhampton, Stafford, Sheffield and Burton. To find out how Swindell & Pearson can help you with any intellectual property requirements please get in touch via [email protected] or by telephone on 01332 367 051.