Chinese Customs Unlikely to Get Involved in iPad Trademark Dispute

Earlier this week, Proview Technology successfully sought the removal of Apple’s iPad from retail stores in one Chinese city because it says it owns the trademark on the product name in that country. Proview also sought to ban all iPad shipments into and out of the country, which would hobble Apple’s global sales since the device is manufactured in China, but Chinese customs officials have indicated that they’re unlikely to get involved.

Proview CEO Yang Long-san told Reuters: “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. We have applied to some local customs for the ban and they’ll report to the headquarters in Beijing.”

The CEO indicated that an out-of-court settlement was the best option for resolving the dispute, which began when Proview successfully argued in a Chinese court late last year that it owned the iPad trademark. As TMO reported on Monday, Proview and its Taiwanese affiliate previously registered the iPad name for trademark protection and Apple purchased those rights in 2009. However, Proview now claims it still owns the rights to the name in mainland China.

Reuters noted that Proview Technology is part of Hong Kong-based Proview International Holdings, which went into serious financial decline after the 2008 recession hit, with a substantial loss posted in the second half of 2009 and a halt in trading of its shares since August 2010. Reuters correspondents visited the Shenzhen address listed on its web site and found an abandoned office building.

Proview’s CEO denied that the legal proceedings against Apple are a last-ditch attempt to save his company, telling Reuters: “Some people say that Proview wants to take the chance to make a sum of money from Apple and this is tarnishing our company’s reputation. We need to clarify what’s the truth behind it.”