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Apple Pulled Some Shenanigans to Get iPad Trademark

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DailyFeed

It's like they say: All's fair in love and tech patents.

As Apple (AAPL) tangles with new Google (GOOG) pal Motorola (MMI) over an iOS ban in Germany, the iPhone maker is still getting pestered by Taiwanese tech firm Proview -- which alleges that Apple doesn't legally own the iPad trademark. In a battle spanning years, the nearly bankrupt Proview claimed that Apple acquired the trademark rights from only a company affiliate and that they still hold the trademark -- worth $1.6 billion, in its eyes. And although a Shenzhen court in southern China ruled in Proview's favor late last year, the tech firm has a tough road ahead in securing any payout from the notoriously tight-pursed Apple.

So, what's the struggling overseas company to do? Focus on how Apple went about acquiring the iPad trademark in the first place which, according to Proview, did so in a less-than-honest manner. Some might even say "fraudulent."

In a press release this week, Proview detailed how Apple hired the British firm Farncombe International to create a dummy corporation as "false pretext" to purchase the iPad name. The fake company IP Application Development Limited -- or IPAD Ltd. -- was established as Apple's surrogate, unbeknownst to Proview. And Farcombe's managing director Graham Robinson negotiated the deal with Proview under the alias "Jonathan Hargreaves" to further hide Apple's involvement.

Robinson claimed the iPad name was desired as an acronym for the fake company. When asked what the company was, what business it performed, and what, if any, products it produced, Robinson remained true to the Apple spirit and evaded each question through clandestine rhetoric. According to the release, his response was, "I'm sure you can understand that we are not ready to publicize what the company's business is, since we have not yet made any public announcements." He added that the company "will not compete with Proview."

And as you can see, millions upon millions of shipments later, the ruse worked.

In a California federal court, Proview has filed an amended complaint which charges Apple with "fraud by intentional misrepresentation, fraud by concealment, fraudulent inducement, and unfair competition." The operative word being, well, you know.

Rather than deny the allegations, Apple has maintained its position that it legally purchased trademark rights in full and that Proview refuses to honor the agreement -- which might be its best legal defense in light of the new complaints.

We're a week away from Apple's introduction to the new version of the product in question, which will no doubt continue to lead the marketplace filled with fair to dismal entries created by Android, RIM (RIMM), and Microsoft (MSFT). But like in the smartphone space, quantity may outweigh quality as the iPad continues to lose market share to a glut of competitors -- with interesting products, like the Windows 8 tablet, on the horizon.

As it focuses on delivering the next generation of tablet computing, the last thing Apple needs is to be hamstrung by a trademark dispute.


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