Reuters reports on the first public comments from a government official regarding Apple's dispute with Proview over ownership of the "iPad" trademark in China, with the official stating that according to Chinese law Proview is indeed the rightful owner of the trademark.
"According to the ... provisions of the China Trademark Law, currently Shenzhen Proview is the legal registrant of the iPad trademark," Fu Shuangjian, a deputy director of [the State Administration for Industry and Commerce], was quoted as saying at a news conference in Beijing. [...]
"This case has a huge impact and the final court ruling would directly influence who owns the iPad trademark. The commerce department will (take the matter) very seriously," said Fu, whose department governs market regulation and supervision.
Fu's comments are not an official ruling on the matter, as the case is still being tried in a Chinese court and settlement talks are reportedly underway, but his perspective could provide a hint about how the case will ultimately play out.
His comments do, however, leave some room for interpretation, potentially noting only that Proview remains listed as the trademark's owner in governmental records. In that context, his comments may simply be observational rather than outlining a position that Proview should ultimately retain those rights.
Apple claims that it obtained the Chinese trademark on the iPad name through a dummy corporation it set up to purchase various iPad trademarks from Proview's Taiwanese arm in the months leading up to the device's debut in early 2010. But Proview later argued that the Chinese right could not have been included in the deal because they were controlled by Proview's Shenzhen arm, despite the fact that officers participating in the deal were aligned with both companies.
A Hong Kong court ruled that Proview and its subsidiaries had conspired to extort additional money out of Apple once it became known that it was the ultimate purchaser of the rights, but Chinese courts are continuing to weigh the matter.