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China's Proview takes Apple iPad fight to US court

China iPad Dispute apple proview AP

Feb. 22, 2012: A man walks out of a digital products mall past an advertisement for the iPad 2 in Beijing, China. Apple Inc. defended its right to use the iPad trademark in China in a heated court hearing Wednesday that pitted the electronics giant against a struggling Chinese electronics company that denies having sold the mainland China rights to the popular tablet computer's name.AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan

Chinese computer-display maker Proview Electronics has filed a lawsuit against Apple in U.S. court, claiming the iPhone maker used deception in buying the iPad trademark, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California in Santa Clara County on Feb. 17 but previously unreported, claimed that Apple committed fraud when it used a company set up by one of its law firms, called IP Application Development, to purchase the iPad trademark from Proview on Dec. 23, 2009 for £35,000 ($55,000).

Proview, which included U.S.-based Proview Technology as a plaintiff in the case, said in its filing that by acquiring the iPad trademark through IP Application Development, and not explaining its true purpose, Apple acted "with oppression, fraud and/or malice," according to the WSJ report.

An Apple spokeswoman reiterated to the WSJ that the company rightfully purchased the iPad name from Proview, adding "Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China, and a Hong Kong court has sided with Apple in this matter."

The revelation that the ongoing trademark battle spilled into the U.S. comes a day after Apple secured a victory over the same dispute in China.

A Shanghai court Thursday rejected Proview's request for a preliminary injunction against the sale of Apple's iPad there, saying it would suspend proceedings to await the results of a separate case in the Guangdong provincial high court.

Apple's attorneys defended the Cupertino, Calif., based company in Shanghai, saying that a ban on iPad sales in China would cause the company huge losses and hurt the Chinese economy. The tablet's popularity has benefited China through tax revenues and jobs created in its manufacturing, they said.

"They have no market, no sales, no customers. They have nothing," Apple lawyer Qu Miao reportedly said of Proview. "The iPad is so popular that it is in short supply. We have to consider the public good."

According to emails and a contract viewed by Dow Jones Newswires earlier this month, Apple agreed more than two years ago to buy the rights to the iPad trademark from Proview to cover several countries, including South Korea, Thailand, Singapore and China.

But Proview is sticking by its claim that it still owns the trademark in China, and is seeking unspecified compensation from Apple. A representative of Proview creditors suggests the compensation claim could range as high as $2 billion.

Read more on Apple's legal battle with Proview at The Wall Street Journal.