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iPad 3 Launch Threatened By Chinese Bid To Ban Exports And Imports

Proview Technology’s claim to the iPad brand and attempts to stop Apple’s distribution in China could upset any iPad 3 launch plans

A Chinese technology company is attempting to have the import and export of iPads banned, claiming that Apple is infringing on its trademark.

Proview Technology, a Taiwanese company based on the Chinese mainland in Shenzhen, is asking Chinese customs to prevent any iPads in or out of the country, potentially upsetting global supply and disrupting the speculated launch of the iPad 3.

Trademark dispute

According to the AFP news agency, Proview bought the rights to the brand name in several countries as early as 2000, six years before Apple started filing for the trademark. The company said it later sold some international rights to Apple, but claims it still owns the iPad name in China.

“We bought Proview’s worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago,” said Apple in a statement given to AFP. “Proview refuses to honour their agreement with Apple in China.”

Apple has already won its claim to the iPad name in Hong Kong, but awaits an appeal on 29 February in mainland China.

Xie Xianghui, Proview’s lawyer, said the company has prepared requests to block imports and exports, which could effectively stop sales of the tablet in China and, on Tuesday, lawyers representing the company requested a halt of iPad exports. If the bid successfully blocks Apple’s iPads from entering worldwide distribution, it would sharply affect global sales as well as the rumoured launch of the iPad 3 next month.

Two cities in the Hebei and Henan provinces have already removed iPad from shops, with Xie saying that, since December, the company has lodged complaints to more than 10 cities. AFP reports that electronics retailers, online vendors, and Apple’s five Chinese stores have not felt any affects of the ban.

Despite Proview’s victories over Apple so far, the Chinese manufacturer has admitted that the ban may be difficult to apply nationwide.

“The customs have told us that it will be difficult to implement a ban because many Chinese consumers love Apple products. The sheer size of the market is very big,” Yang Long-san, the company chief, told Reuters. He added that an out-of-court settlement would be the best way for Apple to resolve the dispute. Proview is reportedly asking for 10 billion yuan (£1bn) in compensation for trademark infringement.