iPad Trademark Dispute: What’s At Stake

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Relax, this will be a quickie. We already know what’s at stake in terms of Apple continuing to sell iPad-branded tablets in China.

Another issue that hasn’t been discussed much in this whole conversation about the Proview-Apple dispute is enforcement of the iPad mark against third parties. Michael Kan wrote about that topic in PC World this week:

Apple, which already faces uncertainty over ownership of the iPad trademark in China, has filed a complaint demanding a local Chinese luggage vendor drop the EPAD trademark it uses on its products.

FYI, I don’t know anything about this EPAD case beyond that article, so I’m not commenting on it here, just using it to bring up a new issue. Keep in mind that Apple also owns other marks in the iStuff family, including I assume “iPod,” so that case might be more complicated than it appears.

Anyway, my point is that there are tons of “bad guys” out there using marks similar to “iPad” to flog their stuff. In order to stop them, a brand owner needs one important thing . . . control of the brand. You see the potential problem here?

Usually control of the brand means a trademark registration. Sometimes, though, an enforcement action is just based on a well-known, but unregistered, mark. Either way for Apple, if Proview somehow holds on and wins this thing, it will be able to use the mark, license it to others, and decide whether to bring enforcement actions against third party infringers.

Store this away as a Just For Reference. I’m still leaning in the direction of Apple ultimately getting control of the mark (that might involve some money changing hands), but you never know.

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