Chinese Authorities Seize Apple iPads in Trademark Dispute

Chinese flag displayed on an iPadA dispute over the ownership of the name “iPad” in China has resulted in local authorities in that country to seize Apple iPads from retail stores in one northern city, Shijiazhuang. Proview Technology, which is located in Shenzhen, claims ownership of the iPad name and wants the devices removed from an additional 20 cities.

It seems that Proview Technology sent letters to authorities in Shijiazhuang, which is southwest of Beijing. The Washington Post reported an economic investigation official as saying that all iPads had been taken off the shelves in the Xinhua district in Shijiazhuang. He gave no indication of how many locations or devices had been involved.

Apple has only five of its own Apple Store retail locations in China, and none of them are based in the affected area. Authorized (and unauthorized) resellers, however, are in many cities across the country.

The iPad name was registered in China to Proview back in 2001. A Taiwanese affiliate, Proview Taipei, registered the iPad name in various countries as far back as 2000. Apple purchased rights to the name from Proview Taipei in 2009 for US$54,700.

Proview claims it still has rights to the name in mainland China. In December, a Chinese court rejected a complaint from Apple that Proview was violating its rights to the iPad name. Proview then filed a complaint with the commercial bureau in Beijing in January.

Proview is also asking for all promotional material using the iPad name in the additional 20 unidentified cities to be destroyed. In an earlier court filing, the firm asked for US$1.6 billion in damages.