Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chinese customs unlikely to implement trademark-based iPad import / export ban

It does not appear that Chinese authorities will side with Proview Technology in its iPad trademark battle with Apple. Proview claims to own the iPad trademark in China, and had requested Chinese customs officials to halt iPad shipments both into and out of China, but said that has been told that customs authorities are unlikely to intervene in the trademark battle.

Yang Long-san, chief of Proview Technology (Shenzhen), told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday that "The customs have told us that it will be difficult to implement a ban because many Chinese consumers love Apple products. The sheer size of the market is very big. We have applied to some local customs for the ban and they'll report to the headquarters in Beijing."

An export ban on the product would have brought global shipments of the iPad to a halt, as Apple outsources manufacturing to Chinese companies, such as Foxconn.  Still, Proview has asked authorities in about 20 cities to halt the sales of iPads.

At the same time some third-party retailers are taking a defensive posture, eliminating iPads from their stores. China and have removed the iPad from sale.

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However, both of these are minor players in China, despite's huge global reach. The major players in the third party marketplace, Alibaba’s, and 360buy, still have iPads for sale, as does Dangdang, which was one of China’s earliest Internet consumer electronics retailers.

Apple says it purchased worldwide rights to the iPad trademark from parent company Proview International several years ago. However, Proview Technology, a Shenzhen affiliate, said the sale did not cover the trademark's use in China, where it owns the iPad name.

Apple lost a case to Proview Technology in a Shenzhen court late in 2011, when the court sided with the company over ownership of the iPad trademark. Apple has appealed to a higher court, the next hearing in the case is scheduled for February 29.

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