Chinese court orders vendor to halt iPad sales in trademark dispute

Proview wants Apple to pay US$400 million for the iPad trademark in China

A Chinese court has ordered a local electronics vendor to stop selling the iPad, as part of an escalating trademark dispute that threatens to stop Apple from selling its iconic tablet in the country.

On Friday, a court in the Chinese city of Huizhou ruled that electronics retailer Sundan had to halt iPad sales at one of its stores, according to Ma Dongxiao, a lawyer for Chinese company Proview, which filed the legal action.

Proview, a display vendor that has filed for bankruptcy, claims to own the iPad trademark in mainland China and is demanding that Apple stop selling its tablet in the country. Proview's legal action against Sundan is just one of the many lawsuits and complaints the company has filed to get local authorities to take action against iPad sales.

A lawyer for Sundan said on Monday the company is still waiting for a copy of the court verdict, which should arrive within two days. The company is still discussing the matter, and plans to speak with Apple. No decision has been made on whether to halt iPad sales.

Apple could not be immediately reached for comment.

Proview has also filed for a customs ban with Chinese authorities to stop exports and imports of the iPad tablet.

On Friday, Proview representative Li Su said the company would drop all action against Apple if the U.S. tech giant paid $400 million for the trademark.

The Chinese company acquired the iPad trademark in 2001. But Apple claims to have bought it in 2009 through a company it had set up, called IP Application. Proview, however, argues Apple bought the trademark rights from a Proview Taiwan subsidiary, which never had permission to sell the trademark.

Last June, a Hong Kong court ruled in favor of Apple, ordering an injunction to prevent Proview from selling the iPad trademark to another company. But in December, Apple was dealt a legal blow when a court in Shenzhen, China rejected the company's claims to the iPad trademark. Apple is appealing the decision.

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Michael Kan

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