Apple’s iPad Trademark Issue Headed to California

Oh, what a tangled web an iPad trademark weaves.

After the Chinese software company Proview Shenzan Technology accused  Apple of ripping off the iPad trademark, various Chinese courts have bounced the issue back and forth, with a Hong Kong court ruling in Apple’s favor while another in the Guangdong province ruled against the company with the demand Apple stop selling iPads in China. Proview has issued cases in a number of municipalities in China, so it remains unclear which of these decisions will have real impact on a national level.

Now Proview has taken Apple to the US litigation system, claiming that Apple committed fraud when it first approached the Chinese company under a company set up by one of its law firms, IP Application Development Ltd, the Wall St. Journal reports. Proview claims that the Apple affiliate maintained it only wanted the trademark because it was similar to its own name, and that the company would not be competing against Proview. The case was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California in Santa Clara County.

Proview obtained the rights for the “IPAD,” an Internet appliance, in 2000. Apple reportedly bought the rights for the iPad name in 2009, but Proview claims the company only bought the rights from a Chinese subsidiary of Proview that didn’t have the rights to sell the trademark.

Apple, on the other hand, contends that Proview was well aware of the trademark exchange, and that it holds a letter that states that Proview’s own headquarters had negotiated and accepted the trademark sale for £35,000 (US$55,000), with Proview promising to transfer the trademark.

Apple, meanwhile, is threatening to sue Proview for defamation, PC World reports.

“…It is inappropriate to release information contrary to the facts and to the media, especially when such disclosures have the effect of wrongly causing damage to Apple’s reputation,” a letter from Apple to Proview reads. “You will be held legally responsible for such activity.”

It’s a fairly ironic trademark battle in a country where Chinese police recently seized iPhone gas stoves in Wuhan after realizing they weren’t really Apple products. Each of the 681 stoves had an Apple image and iPhone tag branded on the label, with a compliance certification label stating “Apple China Limited.”

Trademarks in China certainly make up their own brand. Let’s see how California weighs in on the whole business.