Apple’s China trademark battle moves to Shanghai

Channels Television  
Updated February 21, 2012

Apple Inc’s trademark battle will on Wednesday move to Shanghai, China following a Shanghai court deliberation on Proview’s request to halt the sale of iPads across the city.

Proview Technology (Shenzhen) claims it owns the iPad trademark in China and a Shenzhen court ruled in its favor last December. Proview has since launched a multi-pronged approach to get Apple’s iPads off the shelves with mixed success.

Apple’s iPad has a huge lead over rival tablet PCs in China with a 76 percent share. But it’s not only the consumer market in China that is important for Apple because the country is also a major production base for the iPad and other Apple products.

Indeed, Proview Technology has already petitioned Chinese customs to stop shipments of the iPad in and out of China, however, authorities have indicated such a ban would be difficult to impose.

Previous court rulings have covered specific retailers in smaller cities, but a Shanghai order, if imposed, would eat into one of Apple’s biggest markets in China, which is home to three of its five flagship stores in China.

Apple disputes Proview’s ownership of the trademark, saying it bought the trademark from Proview in 2009. The firm has appealed the Shenzhen judgment with a higher court hearing set for Feb 29 in China’s southern province of Guangdong.

Apple’s Shanghai unit is the defendant in the case due to be heard on Wednesday. Losing could mean the city’s three Apple retail stores would have to stop selling the

popular tablet PCs. Apple has two other flagship stores in China, both in Beijing.

Over the past week, Proview’s efforts have borne fruit as local media reported that certain cities have started enforcing Proview’s request to remove the iPads.

Proview’s lawyers said on Friday it had won a lawsuit in the southern city of Huizhou against a retailer selling Apple’s iPads, not boding well for its case in Shanghai.

“The Proview people probably remain fairly confident, in view of their success in Guangdong province already,” head of Mayer Brown’s intellectual property practice in Hong Kong, Kenny Wong, said of the Shanghai hearing on Wednesday.