Chinese Authorities Seize iPad Tablets Amid Trademark Row

Chinese authorities have begun confiscating Apple iPad 2 tablets for sale, as the company faces trademark-related lawsuits from a Proview Technology, that claims it owns the trademark to the brand “IPAD.”

In this file photo taken on Jan. 26, 2011, a man stands near Apple's iPad advertisement in Shanghai, China. Chinese officials said Monday, Feb. 13, 2012, that investigators in Shijiazhuang, southwest of Beijing, started seizing iPads last week at the request of a company that filed a complaint with the government accusing Apple Inc. of violating its rights to the iPad name. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

AP has earlier reported that Shenzen-based Proview Technology is the process of asking customs officials to block imports and exports of the Apple iPad, given that Apple is in violation of Proview’s ownership of the iPad trademark in the country. According to reports, Proview registered the iPad trademark in China in 2001, and in other countries in 2002, although rights to the said brand name has been sold to a company linked to Apple in 2006 for US$ 55,000. But while Apple believes that the trademark acquisition included China, Proview claims otherwise.

Proview has filed complaints in 20 cities, and has urged authorities to ban the sale of the popular tablet computer in their jurisdictions. Proview has likewise filed complaints against Apple and retail stores in various cities, seeking the same. Retailers are reportedly anxious to sell their remaining stocks, and some are even going as far as taking these off their shelves to avoid seizures.

Apple sees China as a booming market, judging by the demand for its latest iPhone 4S, and the iPad 2 as well. Most of Apple’s computers and mobile devices are likewise manufactured in plants in the country, so an order to ban both imports and exports might prove to be disastrous to Apple’s business while it depends on China-based manufacturers for its production and supply chain.

In filing the trademark infringement lawsuits, Proview hopes to gain enough compensation to pay for uts US$ 500 million debt. China-based Proview Technology is a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Proview International Holdings, which manufactures and markets flat-screen displays. The company has attempted to launch its own IPAD tablet in the early 2000s, but failed to reach market. The company has since filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

Proview’s lawyer, Xie Xianghui, says a west Beijing district has earlier agreed to fine Apple US$ 39 million, although this was suspended amid Apple’s appeal of a Shenzen court decision, in which Apple’s claim that it was the rightful owner of the name “iPad” was rejected in December 2011.