In a matter of weeks, Proview has gone from a company few have ever heard of to positioning themselves as a underdog in their iPad trademark battle against Apple Inc. Can this techno David take on Goliath and come out unscathed with their most valuable asset still intact?
On Tuesday, Reuters posted a fascinating interview with Yang Long-san, the Chinese founder of Proview. The company is currently battling Apple for trademark rights to the iPad name, which Proview argues were sold under fraudulent terms through a shell company only a month before Apple unveiled their market-leading tablet.
“Proview’s fortunes may currently be the polar opposite of Apple,” the report reveals. “One has creditors at the door and the other is the world’s most valuable listed company — but both illustrate how the fickle world of technology can make or break a company.”
After a successful run as a computer display maker, Proview got into the computer business in 1999 with a system they called the iPAD (Internet Personal Access Device), “a stripped-down PC, with a bulky CRT (cathode ray tube) monitor, a slow-ish chip and running a very basic version of Microsoft Windows.” (Coincidentally, Proview’s iPAD — shown above — bears a striking resemblance to the original iMac, which Apple first introduced a year earlier.)
More than a decade later, and Proview had mostly hit the skids — so when a company came calling in late 2008 seeking to buy the trademark to iPAD, attorneys drew up a deal and cashed a check for ,000. A month later, Apple introduced the iPad, and it became clear that Proview’s attorneys had cashed in their chips far too cheaply.
According to Yang, Proview didn’t sell all of its iPAD trademarks to Cupertino, which is at the heart of the current legal battles going on in China. “My biggest wish is to resolve all these frustrating problems and put them behind me,” Yang told Reuters via telephone. “If we can resolve all the problems we have now and I have a chance to make a comeback, I’d still want to overtake my old competitors.”
Whether the bankrupt Proview stands a chance against Apple remains to be seen, as the display maker brings their trademark battle to American shores, claiming they were essentially duped out of the iPAD trademarks. “I hope we can return to our glory days,” Yang says. “I’m sure our shareholders are hoping for the same.”
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