Shanghai court rejects suit against Apple over trademark

A Shanghai court ruled against a Chinese company on Thursday in a suit that sought to prevent Apple from selling its popular iPad mobile device in China.

The Pudong New District People’s Court held a hearing Wednesday after Proview Technology (Shenzhen) asked the court to immediately ban the sale of the iPad, claiming that it owns the right to use the iPad trademark on the Chinese mainland and that Apple’s product infringes on the trademark.

Apple Trading (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., which runs three retail stores in Shanghai, asked the court to reject Proview’s request pending a final verdict on the ownership of the trademark in China.

The court said sales of the iPad may continue, as the right to use the trademark is still under dispute.

Apple has brought a suit to the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong province, accusing Proview Shenzhen of infringing on the iPad trademark. A hearing is scheduled to be held on Feb. 29.

The Pudong New District People’s Court said that until the Guangdong court hands down its verdict, it cannot be concluded that Apple’s use of the iPad trademark is an act of infringement.

Proview Technology (Shenzhen) and U.S. technology giant Apple have been tangled in a lengthy dispute over the right to use the iPad trademark in China.

Proview Technology (Shenzhen) is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-headquartered Proview International Holdings Limited, which also has a branch in Taipei.

Proview Taipei registered the iPad trademark in a number of countries and regions as early as 2000, with Proview Shenzhen registering the trademark on the Chinese mainland in 2001.

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Apple bought the right to use the trademark from Proview Taipei in February 2010 via IP Application Development Limited (IP), a company based in the U.S.. However, Proview Shenzhen claims it still reserves the right to use the trademark on the Chinese mainland.

The Municipal Intermediate People’s Court in Shenzhen rejected a lawsuit by Apple and IP accusing Proview Shenzhen of infringing on the iPad trademark in December 2011. Apple then appealed to the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong province.

Last week, a court in the city of Huizhou in Guangdong ruled in favor of Proview, ordering a local retailer to stop selling iPads.

Apple said last week that it bought Proview’s worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago. Apple added that a Hong Kong court backed the company, as Proview refused to honor their agreement.

Although a final verdict in the mainland has yet to be delivered, authorities in some Chinese cities have seized iPads after receiving complaints from Proview Shenzhen.

The move has also prompted Apple retailers in many Chinese cities to pull iPads off their shelves themselves.

Sun Peilin, an analyst with Analysys International, said the trademark dispute may delay sales of Apple’s third-generation iPads in China. The third-generation iPad is rumored to be launched next month.

Xinhua

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