Apple faces Chinese iPad ban

Could the Chinese be deprived of iPads? A Hong Kong computer display company is doing its best to block Apple from selling its hugely popular tablet on the Chinese mainland over a trademark dispute.

China-based Proview claims it wants to settle the dispute with Apple while Apple claims Proview is not honouring a prior agreement.


Yesterday Proview lawyers asked several Chinese authorities in Chinese cities to terminate iPad sales, though it is not clear how many have complied. Proview are seeking up to $1.6bn in compensation for trademark infringement. It is also a company struggling with debt, according to Reuters, though Apple will not want to spend $1.6bn to settle, it is thought.

Last year Apple lost to Proview when a Chinese Shenzhen court agreed that Proview owned the iPad trademark. This case continues on 29 February, though Apple contends it bought the iPad trademark from a Proview Taiwanese subsidiary.

iPad 3 delay?

There is concern that the dispute could even affect the shipment of the new iPad 3, due for launch, it's thought, in March. Apple does own the iPad trademark for several countries outside China; in theory, exports to other countries should not be affected.

A move to shut down iPad 3 exports would also not just damage Apple but also the Chinese authorities, themselves not known for fighting hard on intellectual property issues.

So some settlement is likely. Apple is cash-rich. It can afford to pay out. But how much, and how soon, remains to be seen.

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