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Apple, Proview iPad Battle Comes To California Court

Apple Proview Ipad

By ELAINE KURTENBACH   02/24/12 06:05 AM ET  AP

SHANGHAI -- Apple Inc. is facing yet another challenge to its use of the iPad trademark in China – this time in a court in California.

Proview Electronics Co., a unit of Proview International Holdings, which claims it owns the iPad name, filed a lawsuit against Apple's use of the trademark in mainland China at the Santa Clara Superior Court on Feb. 17, Proview spokeswoman Alice Wang said Friday.

An attempt by Proview to win an injunction to stop Apple from selling iPads in Shanghai was foiled this week when a court there rejected the case pending the resolution of a similar lawsuit in a higher court in China.

Apple had no immediate comment on the California lawsuit.

The companies are feuding over whether Proview sold the mainland Chinese rights to the iPad trademark to Apple in a 2009 deal.

Proview claims the sale of the iPad China trademark to a company representing Apple by its Taiwan affiliate in 2009 was invalid. Proview has not challenged the sale of other worldwide rights to the iPad trademark to Apple in the 35,000 British pound ($55,000) deal.

Apple contends that Proview included the mainland Chinese trademark in the sale and says it violated that contract by failing to transfer the trademark rights to Apple.

Proview's lawyers have indicated their company is open to settling its claim to the trademark. In the meantime, the two sides have engaged in legal skirmishes in Hong Kong and in southern China's Guangdong province, where Proview's main office is based.

There, lower courts have sided with Proview in two cases. The Guangdong High Court is due to hear Apple's appeal of the first decision on Feb. 29.

Proview International Holdings was once one of the world's leading makers of computer monitors, with sales in 50 countries and more than 7,000 employees in factories in Taiwan and China.

But the company's main focus on manufacturing cathode-ray tube displays – the boxy monitors that have since been replaced by LCD screens – appears to have hurt its performance.

The company's website now says it makes LCD displays, LCD televisions and LED lights. But Proview is deep in debt and faces its shares being removed from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

The company developed what it said was an "iFamily" range of products, including iTV, iWeb and iPAD. It launched its iPAD in 2000, but unlike Apple's 2010 tablet computer, Proview's earlier version failed to hit the market sweet spot that might have made it a hit.

Proview has sought to have commercial authorities in many Chinese cities stop sales of Apple's iPad. In suspending the case being heard in Shanghai, Pudong District Court rejected a demand for an injunction to stop iPad sales in Shanghai, where Apple has three big stores.

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Researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report.

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Take a look at the slideshow (below) to see surprising facts from a factory in China where iPads are made.
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  • Handmade Gadgets

    On February 21, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/nightline-apple-supplier-foxconn_n_1293393.html?ref=technology" target="_hplink">ABC aired a "Nightline" segment featuring Bill Weir's visit to a Chinese Foxconn factory</a> responsible for making some of Apple's popular devices. During a tour of the factory, Weir says he "expected more robots" but in fact most of the gadgets at Foxconn are made the old-fashioned way: The high tech parts are put together by hand. For example, iPhones are assembled by hand in 141 steps. One iPad takes five days to assemble and passes through 325 sets of hands.

  • Insane Output

    Two shifts of workers toiling in 12 hour shifts can make 300,000 iPad camera modules in one day, not to mention shape sleek iPads out of "raw hunk[s] of aluminum" at a rate of 10,000 per hour. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/watch/nightline/SH5584743/VD55173552/nightline-221-apples-chinese-factories-exclusive" target="_hplink">Image via Nightline</a>

  • 7 To A Room

    Many workers live at the factory, where they pay $17.50 per month to live 7 to a room in Foxconn dormitories. <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/connieguglielmo/2012/02/22/nightline-goes-inside-apple-factories-in-china/" target="_hplink">The average starting salary is $285 per month,</a> and workers must pay for their food. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/watch/nightline/SH5584743/VD55173552/nightline-221-apples-chinese-factories-exclusive" target="_hplink">Image via Nightline</a>

  • No Free Lunch

    Workers get two hour-long meal breaks during each 12-hour shift. They eat together in a cafeteria where they pay $.70 a meal. This is about a quarter of their hourly wage. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/watch/nightline/SH5584743/VD55173552/nightline-221-apples-chinese-factories-exclusive" target="_hplink">Image via Nightline</a>

  • Tim Cook Investigated Suicides

    In 2010, after a spate of suicides at Foxconn's Shenzen plant, then COO Tim Cook flew to China to investigate the matter. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/watch/nightline/SH5584743/VD55173552/nightline-221-apples-chinese-factories-exclusive" target="_hplink">According to Nightline,</a> Cook put together a team of psychiatric experts to examine the issue. It was at that team's suggestion that the infamous nets were installed between the buildings to prevent suicides. There have been 18 worker suicides at Foxconn since 2010. <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/15/us-china-apple-idUSTRE81E1FQ20120215" target="_hplink">According to Reuters' interview with Fair Labor Association president Auret van Heerden, the group's initial findings from its audit of Foxconn</a> suggested that the suicides could have been "a function of monotony, of boredom, of alienation perhaps."

  • Young Workers

    Weir said he was surprised to see how young the workers were. He said many were in their late teens and no one looked like they could be over 30. Many had left their hometowns, oftentimes in the countryside, in order to get jobs at Foxconn. Weir also toured Chengdu and spoke with the relatives of workers who had left for jobs at Foxconn. According to Cult of Mac, <a href="http://www.cultofmac.com/147878/foxconn-employees-say-underage-workers-were-hidden-before-fla-inspection/" target="_hplink">Foxconn may have hidden underage employees</a> when the Fair Labor Association conducted its inspections. While Apple allows for workers as young as sixteen to assemble their products, those eighteen and under are afforded "special protections," <a href="http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/12/02/22/factory_workers_claim_foxconn_hid_under_age_employees_before_fla_inspection.html" target="_hplink">according to Apple Insider.</a> These include not being allowed to perform some tasks and working shorter hours than older workers.

  • Foxconn Exec Wants To Pay More

    When asked how Foxconn would react if Apple suggested doubling workers' pay, Foxconn executive Louis Woo told Weir that the company would welcome a raise for employees. "Why not?" Woo said. "That would be good for the employees and also definitely good for China and good for us."

  • Air Showers

    Workers have to wear static-proof jackets and take "air showers" to make sure the work area remains dust-free. Even one spec of dust could prove ruinous to the iGadgets' delicate innards. <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/watch/nightline/SH5584743/VD55173552/nightline-221-apples-chinese-factories-exclusive" target="_hplink">Image via Nightline</a>

  • WATCH A CLIP FROM THE NIGHTLINE SEGMENT

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Filed by Ramona Emerson  |