Apple iPad Now Under Fire in U.S.

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Aly Song / Reuters

Raindrops are seen in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in Shanghai February 22, 2012.

Leaping across the globe in a single lawsuit, China-based Proview Electronics is bringing its iPad trademark battle with Apple stateside. The monitor manufacturer has filed a lawsuit in California, accusing the company of international fraud.

Proview’s new angle: It’s alleging Apple’s use of a shell company to snatch up the iPad trademark in China for a trifling $55,000 in December 2009 was fraudulent, and Proview’s asking for $2 billion to make amends. That’s on top of the 10 billion yuan (about US$1.6 billion) Proview’s already sued Cupertino for in China proper.

(MORE: Why Did Apple Really Pull the iPad from Amazon China?)

The shell company one of Apple’s legal teams used to grab the name was called IP Application Development Ltd., but grabbing domains by way of intermediaries isn’t unheard of. As Ben Popper over at VentureBeat admits, that’s how he went about purchasing domains for “big media companies in [his] day.” If you want to grab something for as little as possible and you’re as all-powerful as Apple, wouldn’t you consider using someone in the middle, too?

Proview’s having none of it, of course, arguing that Apple acted “with oppression, fraud and/or malice” (via the Wall Street Journal). And Apple’s already fired back, defending its actions and stating “Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China, and a Hong Kong court has sided with Apple in this matter.”

The stakes couldn’t be higher for both companies: Apple stands to pay out billions and/or lose its right to the iPad trademark in China (though it’ll no doubt settle if it senses legal armageddon), and Proview recently filed for bankruptcy. To date, Chinese courts have rejected requests for sales injunctions on Apple’s iPad, and the next big date is Feb. 29, when a Chinese court will consider Apple’s appeal of a ruling that favored Proview.

MORE: When Is an iPad Not an iPad? When It’s Sold in China, Says Court