Proview profiled as a near-dead company with 'IPAD' name as its only major asset

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Once a significant technology company with 18,000 employees, Proview is now a nearly dead operation where officials are banking on cashing in on a trademark dispute with Apple over the "iPad" name.

The trademark dispute between Apple and Proview was highlighted Tuesday in a feature published by Reuters. At the center of Proview is company owner Yang Long-san, who still dreams of a comeback with his floundering company, but those hopes are pinned largely on his company's dispute with Apple over the use of the "iPad" name.

The story reveals that Proview employed 18,000 people and had offices around the world at one point, but now it employs only a few hundred. None of its previous operations continue, as the primary focus at Proview now is the trademark case against Apple.

Proview owns the rights to the "IPAD" name in multiple territories, but some of those trademarks were sold in late 2009 to a special purpose company secretly made by Apple named IP Application Development Limited Ltd. Proview has accused Apple of multiple instances of fraud and unfair competition because the company did not reveal it was behind IP Application Development, or "IPAD," when it bought the rights to the name for $55,000.

Now Proview seeks up to $1.6 billion in compensation from Apple for the use of the iPad name. It has also sought to ban sales of the iPad in various cities in China, and is even trying to bar the exportation of the iPad from China, which would effectively bring global sales to a halt.

Proview has even taken its legal action to Apple's home turf, filing a lawsuit against the iPad maker in California earlier this month. Apple is accused in that suit of fraud by intentional misrepresentation, fraud by concealment, fraudulent inducement, and unfair competition.

At its peak, Proview was the manufacturer of a stripped-down PC it called the Internet Personal Access Device, or iPAD. The company also found some success building monitors before the global financial crisis hit and pushed it into bankruptcy.

Yang told Reuters he remains optimistic that his company will win the trademark battle with Apple. Then he will be in a position to rebuild his company and "overtake" his old competitors.

"I hope we can return to our glory days," he said. "I'm sure our shareholders are hoping the same."

But Yang and Proview suffered a major setback last week, when a Shanghai court sided with Apple and has allowed sales of the iPad to continue in that city. That decision will be reviewed by a higher court in the southern Chinese province of Guandong on Wednesday.