Apple faces legal threat to iPad trademark in China

A Chinese court rejected Apple's lawsuit aganist Shenzhen-based Proview

A Chinese court has rejected Apple's lawsuits to gain control of the iPad trademark in China, while a little-known Chinese firm raises the stakes and seeks to ban the iconic tablet from being sold in the country under the iPad brand.

The Shenzhen Municipal Intermediate People's Court said in a Tuesday statement online that it had rejected Apple's two trademark lawsuits against Shenzhen-based Proview, a display monitor vendor now in financial trouble. In 2001, Proview registered for the trademarks "iPAD" and "IPAD" in China, which it later used to unsuccessfully launch its own tablet.

The court said that in 2009, a Proview subsidiary in Taiwan had sold the iPad trademark rights to a U.K.- based company called "IP Applications". In 2010, the U.K.-based company then sold the trademark rights to Apple.

The court rejected the lawsuits, stating that even as Apple had signed a contract for the trademark rights, it had done so only through Proview's Taiwan subsidiary. Proview's Shenzhen-based company did not attend any trademark negotiations, nor did it formally transfer the trademark rights. As a result, the contract is not legally binding, according to the court.

Apple said on Wednesday it declined to comment on the case.

Xiao Caiyuan, a lawyer representing Proview, said Apple could still appeal the court's decision. But in the meantime, Proview has already filed a lawsuit in China against Apple, which is set to go trial, according to Xiao.

Xiao declined to offer details about the lawsuit. But he said Proview seeks to ban Apple from selling its iPad in China because of trademark infringement. "Because Apple is a very influential company, no one wants to think they are being unreasonable. But in this case, they really are being unreasonable," Xiao said.

Apple's iPad has been the hottest selling tablet in China, with the devices grabbing a 74 percent market share in the second quarter, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

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Tags iPadtabletsApplelegalhardware systemsintellectual propertyProview

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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