Then came the 2008 global financial crisis.
Proview’s annual reports and its filings to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange chart its downward trajectory, as profits shrank, costs rose and accounts went unpaid. Bankruptcy proceedings started in 2009 but have since halted. Creditors have been selling off buildings, equipment and vehicles owned by subsidiaries, scraping money together bit-by-bit.
The company is in the midst of restructuring. Asked if Proview could supply a sample of its iPAD to test, company spokeswoman Alice Wang said that in 2009 it shifted into making LED lights instead of computer monitors. The company faces a June 29 deadline to meet stock exchange requirements or be delisted.
The companies are battling over whether Proview sold the mainland Chinese rights to the iPad trademark to Apple in a 2009 deal. Proview claims that sale, by its Taiwan affiliate, was invalid. Proview has not challenged the sale of other worldwide rights to the iPad trademark to Apple in the 35,000 British pound ($55,000) deal.
Proview’s lawyers have indicated their company is open to settling its claim to the trademark. In the meantime, the two sides have engaged in legal skirmishes in Hong Kong and in southern China’s Guangdong province.
According to documents from the High Court of Hong Kong, where Apple has sued Proview for breach of contract, mainland banks have sought “asset preservation orders” to secure control of the China iPad trademark.
Proview appears keen to wring a settlement out of Apple. Though its lawyers say Apple could incur huge losses if mainland courts rule in favor of Proview, the U.S. company has shown no signs of moving toward settling out of court.
In Apple’s lawsuit against Proview in Shenzhen, which it lost and is now appealing, Apple sought 4 million yuan ($635,000) in damages. That’s far less than the amount that may be at stake if it loses the right to sell the iPad in China, but more than the 10,000 yuan in expenses Proview asked for as it sought and failed to win an injunction to stop iPad sales by Apple stores in Shanghai.
Pressed by the judge for an estimate of how much damage Proview claims to have suffered from the Apple iPad’s huge success, its lawyers said they didn’t know.
Researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report.