Last week, we learned that Apple was sued by the Shenzhen, China-based company Proview Technology, over the iPad name, and today, news broke that local authorities were beginning to enforce a ban on Apple’s iPads in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Jiangsu after Proview filed complaints with several local government agencies.
Now the company, which holds the ownership of the iPad trademark in China, has asked the nation’s customs bureau to block imports and exports of the iPad.
Proview is a Hong-Kong based manufacturer of computer displays, and has been in possession of the iPad name since 2001. Apple itself began the dispute with the company, when it sued for rights to the name in 2010.
The Shenzhen court did not side with Apple, and since then, Proview Technology has gone on the offensive, planning to request approximately $1.6 billion in infringement fines. Proview has not been able to reach an agreement with Apple, and today, Roger Xie, Proview lawyer, had this to say:
“We are applying to customs to stop any trademark-infringing products from imports to China and also for exports. Apple wants to postpone and continue infringement of the iPad in China.”
According to Apple, the company bought Proview’s worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 countries, including China, from a Taiwanese company affiliated with Proview. “Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China,” said Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu. “Our case is still pending in mainland China.”
So far, Apple has not had much luck in the Chinese courts, making this new request a scary one. A ban on iPad exports in China would affect iPad sales worldwide, since many of the iPad components are manufactured in the country. According to intellectual property lawyer Stan Abrams, the threat of an export ban means that a settlement is imminent.
According to Chinese news sites, Proview is deep in debt and needs a big cash settlement from Apple. The company has yet to make an offer to settle, but Apple may soon be handing over a significant chunk of change if it doesn’t get the Chinese courts on its side.