Apple Inc. has agreed to pay 60 million U.S. dollars to Proview Technology (Shenzhen) to settle their dispute over the iPad trademark in the Chinese mainland, the Higher People's Court of Guangdong Province announced Monday.
Apple has transferred the money to the account designated by the Guangdong higher court, and the Intermediate Court of Shenzhen on Monday notified the State Administration for Industry and Commerce to transfer the iPad trademark to Apple, the higher court said.
The court said the settlement agreement went into effect on June 25.
"All parties involved have agreed on the settlement. Proview and Apple now no longer have a dispute over the iPad trademark," said Xie Xianghui, a lawyer for Proview Shenzhen, a debt-ridden manufacturer of computer screens and LED lights based in Shenzhen.
Proview Shenzhen had previously claimed that the Taipei subsidiary of its Hong Kong-based parent company, Proview International Holdings Limited, registered the iPad trademark in a number of countries and regions as early as 2000.
Though Apple bought the rights to use the iPad trademark from Proview Taipei in 2009, Proview Shenzhen said it reserved the right to use the trademark it registered on the Chinese mainland in 2001. The two sides have since been entangled in a drawn-out legal battle.
Guangdong's higher court heard the case in February, as Apple and its proxy for the trademark purchase appealed a previous court ruling by the Shenzhen intermediate court in favor of Proview Shenzhen.
In June, Proview Shenzhen was brought to court in a bankruptcy case. Its creditors demanded that the court have the company liquidated, as it took a tumble in the 2008 global financial crisis and allegedly owed more than 400 million U.S. dollars to eight Chinese banks, according to media reports.
The sum in the Apple settlement is not enough for Proview Shenzhen to repay its debts, but experts say the trademark case settlement can help Apple seize huge market opportunities in China. Otherwise, the U.S. tech giant might not have been able to sell its popular tablet computers in the Chinese mainland.
China is Apple's second-largest market after the United States. China contributed 7.9 billion U.S. dollars, or about 20 percent of Apples's revenues, during its second fiscal quarter in 2012, the company said.
Apple's iPads have become so popular among the country's younger generation that parents worry that kids growing up with iPads glued to their hands will be more likely to become near-sighted, physically weak and socially inactive.
Market observers predict that when Apple's latest version of the iPad hits the Chinese mainland market, fans will snatch up the product so fast that it will be out-of-stock for most of the year. Meanwhile, more units of the iPad 2 will be sold when the more recent version is launched, forcing a price-cut.