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Apple iPad taken off shelves over trademark dispute

Apple's iPad has been taken off the shelves in some cities of China due to trademark disputes.

business Updated: Feb 14, 2012 15:55 IST

Apple's iPad has been taken off the shelves in some cities of China due to trademark disputes.

The iPad was taken off the shelves in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, and "investigations are underway nationwide" over allegations that the IT giant has infringed the iPad trademark owned by a Shenzhen-based company which is demanding USD 1.6 billion compensation.

"As far as I know, all stores selling authentic iPads have removed the products from their shelves. The tablet is still very popular, but now we only sell to customers who ordered from us beforehand," state-run Global Times quoted a dealer in Shijiazhuang as saying.

The Hebei Youth Daily reported that officers from the Xinhua District Administration for Industry and Commerce in Shijiazhuang launched a two-day investigation last week and seized 45 iPad 2 from stores in the district.

The officers provided dealers with documents accusing Apple of infringing on the iPad brand owned by Proview Technology (Shenzhen), a subsidiary loosely affiliated with the Taipei-based Proview International Holdings Ltd, according to the report.

The Apple's iPad problem was expected to figure in the talks between US officials and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping who is on a five-day visit to the US.

Proview, a maker of computer displays, registered the iPad trademark in a number of countries as early as 2000, long before Apple unveiled its groundbreaking tablet in 2010.

The company's Shenzhen unit registered the trademark in the mainland in 2001, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

In 2009, the Hong Kong-listed company sold the trademark to Apple at a price of 35,000 pounds (USD 55,261), but it claims that the deal did not include ownership of the brand in the mainland held by its Shenzhen unit.

The problem began after a Chinese court turned down Apple's law suit against Proview.

Following this Apple appealed to the Higher People's Court of Guangdong Province on January 5.

Ma Dongxiao, a Shenzhen-based lawyer representing Proview's branch in the city, told the Global Times that more than 20 industry and commerce departments nationwide have launched investigations into the infringement case.

"What we want to achieve most is a complete end to the infringement. Proview hoped for reconciliation with Apple, but until now, I have not had any feedback from the Apple side," Ma said without specifying where the investigations are taking place.

Wu Song, a media officer at the Xicheng District Administration for Industry and Commerce in Beijing said the case is still under investigation, and the administration has not made any move to pull iPads off the shelves, without revealing more details.