iPads seized on mainland in trademark dispute

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 February, 2012, 12:00am


Authorities in four mainland provinces have started removing Apple iPads from stores after a court ruling that a monitor company owns the right to the product's name.

Xiao Caiyuan, a lawyer who represents Shenzhen-based Proview Technology, said industry and commerce bureaus in Shandong, Jiangsu, Hebei and Hunan were taking action.

'We've also been contacted by other commerce bureaus and they want us to provide support for their investigations,' Xiao said. 'We will keep fighting against Apple's trademark infringement.'

The owner of an authorised Apple store in Weihai, Shandong, said he stopped selling iPads on Thursday after receiving a notice from the commerce bureau.

A report in the Hebei Youth Daily yesterday said that on Thursday the local commerce bureau began confiscating iPads that were on sale, and had seized 45 by Sunday afternoon. It said some shops were still selling iPads, but customers had to ask for them to avoid advertising the fact that they were still on sale. Stores in Beijing and other major cities are not affected and Apple's online store on the mainland is still selling iPads.

Apple sued Proview in 2010 and lost in December. It appealed to a higher court last month, but could be facing a fine ranging from US$38 million to the US$1.6 billion Proview is seeking. Proview has filed its own lawsuit in Shanghai.

Apple declined to comment.

Yu Guofu, a copyright lawyer in Beijing, said it was very hard to win an appeal in an intellectual property lawsuit on the mainland.

Proview Technology is part of Proview International, which also owns Proview Electronics in Taiwan. It originally registered the name 'iPad' in Taiwan in 2000 and on the mainland in 2001. Apple bought Proview's iPad trademark for US$55,000 in 2009 via a subsidiary called IP Application Development (IPAD). Proview later said the deal only applied to Taiwan and it had not known that IPAD was connected to Apple.