Chinese company Shenzhen Proview Technology said today that it plans to enforce its "iPad" trademark in the country further by asking customs officials to ban imports and exports of Apple’s most popular device. With all of Apple's iPad devices being manufactured in the country (through Foxconn) this could prove to be a serious threat to its business, because the Proview has already found success on the local level with getting the iPad removed in one unnamed city, according to an Associated Press story.
“We are now working on a request to China Customs to ban and seize all the import and export of the iPad products that have violated the trademark,” said Xie Xianghui, a Proview lawyer. He did not state when such a request would be filed.
Shenzhen Proview Technology secured the iPad trademark in China in 2001. Apple bought rights to the name from a Taiwan company affiliated with Shenzhen Proview Technology (Proview Taipei) in 2009, but Proview continues to claim it still owns the name in China. Apple took the fight to court late-last year in China, but lost. Apple appealed the ruling.
“We bought Proview’s worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago. Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China,” said Carolyn Wu, Apple's spokesperson in Beijing.
“Our case is still pending in mainland China,” Wu said.
It is possible for Shenzhen Proview Technology to halt the import and export of the iPad because it has established in the country that it owns the trademark, and under Chinese law trademark owners have the right to request seizure of goods that violate ownership rights.
According to Stan Abrams, who teaches intellectual property law at Beijing’s Central University of Finance and Economics, rules such as these were enacted to eliminate unlicensed copying of foreign movies, music and designer clothes.
“All of these things that Proview can do, whether it’s going to court or Customs, these are the things that we want to see,” Abrams said. “So it’s definitely ironic.”
Chinese news reports claim that Proview's motivation is to generate cash because it is deeply in debt and would like to settle with Apple. The company’s attorney says it has not asked Apple for a settlement offer at this time.