Apple is a company that has seen its fair share of lawsuits both in the US and abroad. In July of this year Apple settled a Trademark lawsuit in China for the trademark iPad. The Chinese firm, Proview, settled with Apple for $60 million. It seems that Proview was trying to get as much as $400 million to help clear its own debts of over $180 Million.
Right on the heels of the Proview settlement, Apple was sued again for Trademark infringement by another Chinese company Jiangsu Xuebao, a Chinese household chemical company that claims to have trademarked “Snow Leopard” in 2000. Jiangsu Xuebao’s has demanded from Apple around $80,000 and an apology. They have also sued four other retailers of the Snow Leopard software. They are not expected to win the case due to the Chinese word for snow leopard being Xuebao and Apple did not use the Chinese word and instead used the English. Jiangsu Xuebao also has some 42 other trademarks in China.
Some speculate that the iPad settlement has spurred some of Apple’s other trademark issues. Having to fight all of these trademark and other lawsuits is costing Apple money that could be used in other areas of their business and I would assume is also having an effect on the pricing of their products therefore also impacting Apple customers.
Another article that I read in regards to the Snow Leopard lawsuit had two observations on the trademark issue in China. It said “Two things are clear: (1) Any outside company that operates in the Chinese market must ensure that the trademark is viable there and register that trademark with the Chinese authorities in an effort to protect against these types of suits; and (2) the international business world will be watching the outcome of this one closely.”. So it would seem that it is not just Apple that needs to double check having all their ducks in a row.
In the end it seems to me that a company like Apple, due to its success, needs to be doubly careful to avoid other companies looking to help themselves to Apple’s success. I don’t know if Apple could have done more to avoid all of this or if it just comes with the territory of being successful. At any rate, all of this makes me question who trademark laws are set to help.