Proview Thwarted In Chinese iPad Trademark Suit, Brings Case To U.S. Shores

The dispute between Apple and Proview over the “iPad” trademark has just gotten a lot more domestic. Proview, which owned the “iPad” trademark in several countries until they sold the rights to Apple, has been alleging shenanigans, specifically that part of the company never authorized the sale. Apple, for their part, says that everything is in order, and they have the signatures of the recalcitrant Shenzhen branch of Proview to prove it.

A Chinese court found that while the ownership of the trademark was not yet able to be settled, there wasn’t enough evidence to support a sales ban on the iPad. But now Proview has brought the court to California, alleging that Apple defrauded them of the trademark by approaching them as a fictional company: IP Application Development Ltd., or IPAD Ltd.

IPAD Ltd apparently applied to Proview for the trademark as an abbreviation of its name, and promised future products wouldn’t compete with Proview’s. If true, this is a fairly serious offense, and Apple’s ownership of the trademark could be overturned. The legitimacy of the emails (which the Wall Street Journal claims to have seen) will surely be contested, but if it’s all on the record, it could be curtains for the iPad in China — at least, unless Apple wants to pay Proview’s extortionate fees for the privilege.

The suit was filed in California on the 17th, and the China case was suspended yesterday. There is no word on when the U.S. case will go to court.