If one Chinese company gets its way, exports of the iPad could soon grind to a halt, leaving Apple with no supplies.
Proview, a Chinese manufacturer of displays based in Hong Kong, owns the trademark to the name iPad in China. The company has claimed for some time now that Apple is infringing on its trademark by selling the iPad in China, and that the two companies have been unable to reach an agreement. Reports arose over the weekend that Proview has taken another step in their fight with the company by turning to the authorities to go into stores that sell the iPad and confiscate the units from the shelves, but even that appears to not be far enough for them.
Bloomberg Businessweek reported this morning that Proview is now taking the fight a step further and is looking to block exports of the iPad from factories in China. Roger Xie, a lawyer for the company, told them, “We are applying to customs to stop any trademark- infringing products from imports to China and also for exports.” He went on to add, “Apple wants to postpone and continue infringement of the iPad in China.”
Apple sees thing a bit differently, however. Carolyn Wu, Apple’s Beijing-based spokeswoman, said that the company purchased Proview’s rights to the iPad name in 10 countries, but that the company has thus far refused to live up to the agreement. “Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China. Our case is still pending in mainland China,” said Wu.
The case is currently winding its way through the Chinese court systems with another hearing scheduled for February 22. Xie said that the company is currently seeking preliminary damages from Apple of 10 billion yuan (approx. $1.6 billion USD).
Of course, should Proview win an injunction on exports of the iPad, it would be devastating to Apple as they are currently domination the tablet market. With the iPad 3 expected to launch next month, Apple is going to want to get this settled as quickly possible so it can make sure those shipments make it to stores around the world for the launch.
[via Bloomberg Businessweek]