(AFP) – Feb 14, 2012
SHANGHAI — An electronics firm embroiled in a copyright row with Apple said Tuesday it would ask Chinese customs to block iPad imports, as two cities pulled the tablet computers from some shops over the dispute.
Proview Technology (Shenzhen) says it owns the Chinese rights for the name "iPad" and is preparing to ask customs to prevent Apple from bringing the iconic tablet computers into China -- one of the US company's biggest markets.
Apple last year took the firm to a Chinese court, claiming trademark infringement, but the court unexpectedly rejected the case over lack of evidence.
"We are preparing requests to customs for blocking iPad imports," Xie Xianghui, the firm's lawyer, told AFP.
"It is still in the process of preparation," he said, adding the requests would be made to local customs offices and not the national-level customs administration as part of a strategic, localised approach.
Proview Technology (Shenzhen) is owned by a Taiwanese company that registered the trademark name "iPad" in several countries including China as early as 2000 -- years before Apple began selling the product.
The US giant subsequently bought the rights for the global trademark, but Proview claims it retained the Chinese rights.
Apple said it was the rightful owner of the trademark.
"We bought Proview's worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago," Apple said in a statement given to AFP on Tuesday. "Proview refuses to honour their agreement with Apple in China."
Xie said the firm had lodged complaints in more than 10 cities across China after Apple lost the case in December.
According to the official Global Times newspaper, at least 45 iPads have been seized in Shijiazhuang city in the northern province of Hebei since last Thursday.
Officials at the city's industrial and commercial bureau confirmed that authorities confiscated some iPads, but refused to comment on specific numbers.
Authorities in another city, Zhengzhou in the central province of Henan, had also raided one retailer and seized 87 iPads, the official Xinhua news agency said late Tuesday.
However, the iPad -- which was officially launched in mainland China in September 2010 -- remains on sale across the nation's five Apple stores, electronics retailers and through some on-line shopping sites.
The craze for all things Apple in China has triggered widespread cloning of iPhones and iPads over the years.
In July, an American blogger uncovered fake Apple stores in the southwestern city of Kunming, and police in Shanghai arrested five people in September for making counterfeit iPhones.
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