Apple 'deception' alleged in Proview iPad trademark row
- 8 March 2012
- From the section Technology
Asian electronics firm Proview has accused Apple of "deception" in the way it acquired rights to the iPad name.
In Californian court filings, Proview claims Apple created a UK-registered "special purpose company", IP Application Development Ltd (IPADL).
The court papers allege that IPADL said the trademark was needed because "it is an abbreviation for the company name".
Proview is seeking damages and to void a 2009 deal in which it sold its rights to the trademark for $55,000 (£35,000).
A month after that deal, the court documents note, Apple launched the iPad.
IPADL is also named as a defendant in the case, which represents a new front in a continuing legal battle between the two firms over ownership of the name.
Proview told the BBC the action followed an "extensive investigation".
Apple has reiterated a statement accusing Proview of refusing to honour the trademark agreement.
IPAD or iPad?
The case filed by Proview Electronics in the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara on 17 February is a "complaint for fraud".
The company is seeking damages, costs, the voiding of the 2009 trademark sale, and a ruling preventing Apple from using the iPad trademark.
Proview said it registered a number of iPad-related trademarks as a result of developing an "internet appliance" of the same name.
In August 2000, technology news site Cnetdescribed the device as, "an all-in-one internet terminal with a built-in 15-inch colour monitor".
In court filings, Proview claims that in August 2009 Apple's lawyers created a "special purpose entity" - a UK-registered firm called IP Application Development Ltd (IPADL) with the sole purpose "to obtain the iPad trademarks while obscuring the relationship between Apple and the acquisition".
It also accuses IPADL's agent of representing himself as Jonathan Hargreaves in emails when he was, the company alleges, later revealed to be an individual called Graham Robinson.
Mr Robinson works for a UK-based fim specialising in intellectual property issues. It declined to comment on the case.
Proview claims IPADL's agents "intentionally misrepresented" why they needed the trademark by claiming that the firm wanted the trademark because it "is an abbreviation for the company name", and would not use the trademark to compete with Proview.
In an email quoted in the filings "Jonathan Hargreaves" wrote to Proview's Timothy Lo: "I can assure you that the company will not compete with Proview."
This latest case follows a series of legal actions in China which have disputed Apple's right to use the iPad trademark in that country.
The BBC asked Proview to explain why it had taken until now to bring this action in the US. Spokesperson Cal Kenney said: "The US legal action commenced well within the statute of limitations, after an extensive investigation and thorough due diligence."
In response to inquiries from the BBC, Apple reiterated a statement it had previously given in connection with cases being fought in China: "We bought Proview's worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago.
"Proview refuses to honour their agreement with Apple in China and a Hong Kong court has sided with Apple in this matter. Our case is still pending in mainland China."
The company declined to make any further comment.