And you thought you knew what an iPad looks like

IpadI bet you think you know what an iPad looks like. If asked, you'd probably describe it as a small flat tablet computer boasting a 9.7-inch display and sporting an Apple logo on its back. Wrong.

It actually looks a lot like an entirely different Apple product: the original iMac.

The year was 1998, shortly after Steve Jobs' return to Apple. One of the first eye-catching products that Jobs and design guru Jony Ive came up with was the iMac all-in-one, which continues to be among Apple's primary product lines.

Having competitors copy Apple's innovative design is hardly a new phenomenon, and a small Chinese computer maker named Proview took note of the iMac's style and decided to respond in kind, even down to the carrying handle on top of the machine. Thus, the "Internet Personal Access Device," or iPAD, was born.


Source: Proview.

The company has said it spent $30 million developing the iPAD and produced between 10,000 and 20,000 units between 1998 and 2009, when Apple bought the trademark from a Proview subsidiary through a shell company for roughly $55,000 in anticipation of its own iPad tablet. Proview is now disputing the trademark's ownership and wants even more dollars, with demands as high as $2 billion, or more than 36,000 times the original amount.

Proview is in bankruptcy, hoping that scoring some of the Mac maker's money will help it pay off some of its creditors. It alleges that the subsidiary that sold the moniker didn't have the full rights to the name.

The company is going for the jugular with its attack, requesting a ban of imports and exports across China's borders, which has the potential to cripple Apple's supply chain as iPads are assembled in the country. Various courts are going back and forth, with some siding with Apple while others have Proview's back; much of this case is still up in the air, complete with appeals on both sides.

The iPad isn't the only offering to have faced trademark hurdles. The iPhone and iOS names, which are now largely associated with Cupertino, originally belonged to Cisco Systems. The two tech giants settled long ago over both names. It also bought the FaceTime name for its video-calling service from a security software company of the same name, which has since changed its name to Actiance.

This iPAD trademark dispute isn't Apple's first, and it certainly won't be its last.

This article originally appeared

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And you thought you knew what an iPad looks like

Apple I (1976): Apple's first product was a computer for hobbyists and engineers, made in small numbers. Wozniak, left, designed it and Jobs dealt with the funding and marketing. The computer went on sale priced at $666.66

Apple II (1977): One of the first successful personal computers, the Apple II was designed as a mass-market product, retailing at $1,298, and was the first personal computer to feature colour graphics. Several upgrades for the model followed, and the product line continued until 1993. It was so popular that Jobs' fortune exceeded $100 million by the time he turned 25.

Lisa (1983): Following a visit to Xerox's research centre in Palo Alto, California, Jobs was inspired to build the first commercial computer with a graphical user interface, with icons, windows and a cursor controlled by a mouse. It was the foundation for today's computer interfaces, but the Lisa, which cost a whopping $9,995, was too expensive to be a commercial success.

Macintosh (1984): The Macintosh was heralded by an epic advert shown during the Super Bowl, directed by Ridley Scott, which referenced George Orwell's 1984. Like the Lisa, the Mac had a graphical user interface, but it was faster and at $2,495, a quarter of the price. People soon realised its potential for desktop publishing.

iMac G3 (1998): In 1985, Jobs and Apple's CEO, John Sculley clashed, leading to his and Wozniak's resignation from the company. When Jobs returned to Apple 11 years later, Apple was struggling. The radical iMac was the first step towards healing the ailing company. It was strikingly designed as a bubble of blue plastic that enclosed the monitor and computer. It went on sale priced at $1,299.

iPod (2001): In 2001, the game well and truly changed when the first iPods went on sale. The first generation of iPod cost $499 (£400), but as Apple updated and modified the winning formula, prices came down. Of course, it wasn't the first digital music player with a hard drive, but it was the first successful one. The iPod's success prepared the way for the iTunes music store and the iPhone.

iTunes (2001): Apple also introduced iTunes in 2001 - a media-playing computer programme, useful for playing and organising music and videos. The music store was added in 2003, with 200,000 songs at 99 cents, or 79p, each, giving people a convenient way to buy music legally online. iTunes is now an integral part of Apple software: the iPhone cannot be used without first 'synching' with the owner's personal iTunes.

iPhone (2007): If the iPod laid the foundations, then the touch-screen iPhone is Apple's towering glory. The world was introduced to 'apps', which made the phone a device not just for making calls but for managing money, storing photos, playing games and browsing the web. Apple is now the world's most profitable maker of phones, and the influence of the iPhone is evident in all smartphones. The current model, the iPhone 4, sells for $749 (£612), and the arrival of the iPhone 5 is eagerly anticipated.

iPad (2010): Dozens of companies, including Apple, had created tablet computers before the iPad, but none caught on. The iPad finally cracked the code, creating a whole new category of computer practically by itself. In the case of the iPad, Jobs, famed for identifying and creating the next big thing, seems to have created a market where none existed. The highest spec iPad currently retails at $699 (£659).


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