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Monday, February 20, 2012, 01:51 pm PT (04:51 pm ET)

Apple threatens Proview with defamation countersuit

Following a Monday announcement that Proview had won a small legal victory against Apple on Friday, the iPad maker is threatening to sue the bankrupt Chinese company over purportedly false and misleading statements released to the press.

In a letter to Proview founder Yang Rongshan obtained by All Things D on Monday, Apple alleges that the company has been misrepresenting certain facts to press outlets in order to inflame the already complicated "iPad" trademark dispute and is warning legal action over damages resulting from the defamatory statements.

The lengthy document, written in both Mandarin and English, gives the broad strokes of the case thus far, with Apple alleging that Proview not only refuses to honor its trademark agreement, but breaches the "principles of good faith and dealing" by making false or misleading public statements.

Bullet points from the letter regarding false statements:
  • that Apple's affiliate "mistakenly" transacted with Proview Electronics Co., Ltd. ("Proview Taiwan", Proview's another subsidiary) who did not own the trademarks for IPAD in mainland China;

  • that "Proview Shenzhen had no knowledge of the trademark transfer";

  • that Apple's affiliates dealt only with representatieves of Proview Taiwan who "had nothing to do with Proview Shenzhen"; and

  • that the IPAD trademarks in mainland China "were not included in the package of trademarks under consideration" in the sale.

Apple maintains its stance of having legally purchased the rights to the "iPad" name under the direction of Yang in 2009 from Proview Taiwan, an affiliate of Shenzhen-based Proview Technology which itself is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based umbrella company Proview International Holdings.

Recently, Proview has been claiming ownership rights of the "iPad" moniker in China, and Apple notes that because no final court judgment has named a true owner, any presumptive statements "have the effect of wrongly causing damage to Apple's reputation."

The letter goes on to note the specifics of the agreement and subsequent transaction from Proview Shenzhen, including email correspondence and legal documentation.

The full letter from All Things D:

Apple_proview



Earlier on Monday, Proview's lawyer Xie Xianghui announced that the company had won a Lower People's Court decision in Huizhou banning the sale of Apple's tablet, though it turns out that the scope of the ruling is quite narrow as it only applies to one store in the region.