iPad legal tussle in China may impact global sales

By Rachel Hand topicIcon Internet News

Trademark turmoil

A Chinese electronics firm is seeking to ban the import and export of the Apple iPad in China as part of an ongoing legal tussle over the trademark.

Proview Technology claims it still owns the iPad trademark in China, and is therefore petitioning Chinese customs to block shipments of the device in and out of the country. They are also seeking a reported 10 billion yuan (£1bn) in compensation. Apple, meanwhile, claims to have purchased worldwide rights to the trademark from a Taiwan subsidiary of Proview. An Apple spokesperson said: "Proview refuses to honour their agreement with Apple in China and a Hong Kong court has sided with Apple in this matter."

However, the case was heard in a south China court late last year, with the result in Proview's favour; Apple is appealing that decision. Media reports have emerged that local Chinese authorities are ordering retailers to stop selling the device, with some taking the iPad off their shelves.

Manufacturing hub

A ban on shipments in and out of China could seriously dent Apple sales figures. Firstly, China is one of the company's biggest markets, so sales there would take an immediate hit. But furthermore, China does much of the manufacturing for Apple, so a ban on exporting could conceivably lead to a global shortage of iPads.

In other news, CEO Tim Cook has responded to accusations of bad working conditions and child labour in Apple's supply chain. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology Conference yesterday, he said "Every worker has the right to a fair and safe work environment, free of discrimination, where they can earn competitive wages and they can voice their concerns freely. Apple's suppliers must live up to this to do business with Apple."

Richard Frost, managing editor at theEword, commented: "Technology firms are often plagued by trademark and patent issues, and Apple is no different. It remains to be seen how the courts respond and whether the company can work around a ban like Proview's lawyers are proposing."