Apple has agreed to pay a Chinese company $60 million to settle a dispute over ownership of the iPad name, a court announced Monday, removing a potential obstacle to sales of the popular tablet computer in the key Chinese market.
Apple Inc. says it bought the global rights to the iPad name from Shenzhen Proview Technology in 2009 but Chinese authorities say the rights in China were never transferred. A Chinese court ruled in December that Proview still owned the name in China and the company asked Chinese authorities to seize iPads.
"The iPad dispute resolution is ended," the Guangdong High People's Court said in a statement. "Apple Inc. has transferred $60 million to the account of the Guangdong High Court as requested in the mediation letter."
China is Apple's second-largest market after the United States and the source of much of the Cupertino, California-based company's sales growth.
Proview hoped for more money but felt pressure to settle because it needs to pay debts, said a lawyer for the company, Xie Xianghui. He said the company had hoped for as much as $400 million and might still be declared bankrupt in a separate legal proceeding despite the infusion of settlement money.
"This is a result that is acceptable to both sides," Xie said.
The dispute centered on whether Apple acquired the iPad name in China when it bought rights in various countries from a Proview affiliate in Taiwan for £35,000 ($55,845).
The December court ruling said Proview, which registered the iPad trademark in China in 2001, was not bound by that sale, even though it was part of the same company.
Shenzhen Proview Technology is a subsidiary of LCD screen maker Proview International Holdings Ltd., headquartered in Hong Kong.