The clever way Apple was able to trademark the ‘iPad’ name while keeping the product a secret

Steve Jobs using an iPad

One of the key legal steps technology companies take before releasing a new product is securing the trademark for its name. That can be tricky for a company like Apple, famous for developing products under complete secrecy.

This means that when Apple was making the iPad — its first foray into tablet computers — it couldn’t just go ahead and register the “iPad” trademark publicly under its own name.

Instead, the tech giant used a clever “loophole,” discussed by Apple Insider in an article that examines the various ways Apple keeps its upcoming products secret.

Apple used a British company named “IP Application Development LLC” to register the trademark. Can you figure out how they chose that name? Take a look at the name of the company — its acronym is “I.P.A.D.”

It was vital for Apple to secure the “iPad” trademark because there was already a handheld device called the iPad on sale — a mobile retail helper called the Fujitsu iPAD.

Fujitsu iPAD

Gizmodo published a timeline of how Apple managed to gain control of the iPad trademark in China. Once it had set up the IP Application Development company, it used another British company to get in touch with Proview, a computer screen manufacturer in Taiwan that held the Chinese rights to use “IPAD.”

Apple, using the British company Farncombe International, negotiated the sale of the “IPAD” trademark in China, telling Proview that the company would not compete with Proview. Sure enough, Proview sold the rights to the trademark for $US54,800.

Proview eventually realised that they had handed over an incredibly valuable trademark to Apple, and went on to sue them. Apple eventually settled that suit in 2012 for just $US60 million.

And what about the Fujitsu iPAD? Fujitsu reached an agreement with Apple that allowed it to use the “iPAD” trademark for handheld devices. We don’t know the exact details of that deal — but it’s safe to assume that Apple had to pay Fujitsu a large sum to secure the rights to its most-wanted trademark.

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