Court rejects Apple iPad injunction in Shanghai

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The Apple iPad is still on sale in Shanghai, one of China’s largest and wealthiest cities, as a Chinese court refuses to grant an injunction over a trademark dispute. The Pudong District People’s Court rejected a request for an injunction from struggling Chinese LCD maker Proview, saying it would not rule while a related trademark case between the two companies proceeds through an appeals process in Guangdong.

Apple and Proview have come to loggerheads over the trademark for the word “iPad.” Apple claims one of its subsidiaries obtained the rights to the name from the Taiwan-based Proview a number of years ago, long before the iPad was introduced. However, Proview maintains that its mainland subsidiary in Shenzhen (in Guangdong province) retained rights to the trademark in the Chinese mainland—thus, Apple’s use of the name “iPad” in mainland China would be trademark infringement. Proview originally used the “iPad” name all the way back in 1998.

Proview has has some success getting iPad sales blocked in some smaller Chinese cities; however, the Shanghai case was widely viewed as Proview’s first major threat to Apple’s iPad business in China—if Proview could get iPad sales shut down in Shanghai, it would represent a major disruption to Apple’s Chinese business.

A Hong Kong court has also sided with Apple over the issue, but a mainland court in Guangdong sided with Proview. The Guangdong High Court is expected to hear Apple’s appeal on the matter next week

Like many major technology companies, Apple appears increasingly focused on the potentially enormous Chinese market; OS X “Mountain Lion” (due next year) will include improved Chinese input methods and explicit integrated support for popular Chinese online mail, sharing, and microblogging services.

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