The iPad trademark follies: Apple legal strikes back

February 20, 2012, 10:03 PM UTC

Accuses a Chinese company of lying and threatens to sue its chairman for defamation

Following a legal setback widely trumpeted in the Chinese media but dismissed by AllThingsD‘s John Paczkowski as the equivalent of “a court telling your local RadioShack to stop selling iPads,” Apple (AAPL) has delivered by e-mail and courier a stern letter to Rowell Yang, chairman and CEO of the bankrupt company that claims to own the Chinese rights to the iPad trademark.

“As you are well aware,” the letter begins, “Apple’s holding company IP Applications Development … legally purchased all the rights to the ten iPad trademarks owned by Proview … specifically and expressly including the two trademark rights registered in mainland China by Proview Shenzhen.”

Apple claims to have evidence that Yang personally authorized the sale of those trademark rights for £35,000 ($55,000) and directed Proview Shenzhen’s counsel to sign the paperwork on his behalf.

Yet, the letter complains, “Proview Shenzhen and its agents continue to make statements about Apple to the public which are false and misleading” — to wit, that Apple cut a deal with the wrong company. Proview has asked several regional Chinese courts to ban iPad sales until Apple pays the $1.6 billion it demands.

The letter, signed by the Beijing-based firm King & Wood, concludes with a threat:

“On behalf of Apple, we formally reserve all rights to take further legal action against any individuals and entities for any damages that may result from defamatory statements and unlawful actions intended to wrongly interfere with Apple’s business and business relationships.”

Click below for a pdf of the letter, in Mandarin and English.