A Chinese electronics company is claiming in a U.S. court that technology giant Apple deceived it into selling the rights to the name iPad for its popular tablet computers.
Proview Technology said Monday that Apple had an intermediary establish a company called IP Application Development Limited, or IPAD Ltd . It said the only purpose for the company was to create an “elaborate but false pretext” for purchasing the iPad trademark.
The company said IPAD Ltd. did not reveal that it was an agent of Apple, and that it falsely claimed it would not compete with Proview.
Apple says that just days before the release of the original iPad in 2010, it purchased the right to the name in 10 countries, including China, from a Proview affiliate in Taiwan.
But Proview has filed a lawsuit in a California court claiming that Apple engaged in “unfair business and fraud” in order to acquire the rights to the iPad brand.
Proview said Monday that it seeks to have the trademark sale voided and is also seeking unspecified compensation from Apple for profits made using the iPad name.
Proview says if the 2009 sale is ruled void, iPad trademarks for the European Union, South Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam would revert back to its Taiwan subsidiary.
The lawsuit is the latest legal skirmish between the Chinese company and Apple. Apple has won a court judgment in its favor in Hong Kong, but Proview has won a favorable ruling from a court in the southern Chinese manufacturing hub of Shenzhen.
Chinese media have reported that Proview is deeply in debt and needs to win the trademark fight with Apple, the world’s most valuable company, in order to pay its creditors.