China firm told 'iPad ban hard to impose'
Hong Kong, February 15, 2012
A Chinese technology firm seeking to ban all shipments of Apple's popular iPad tablet into and out of the country has been told that China's customs authorities are unlikely to intervene in the trademark battle.
Proview Technology, the Chinese company embroiled in a legal battle with Apple over the iPad name, said on Wednesday that customs authorities had told it that the sheer size of the market and the popularity of iPads would make it difficult to impose a ban.
"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," Yang Long-san, chief of Proview Technology (Shenzhen), told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
"We have applied to some local customs for the ban and they'll report to the headquarters in Beijing."
On Tuesday, lawyers representing Proview Technology (Shenzhen) said the company would seek a ban on exports of Apple's iPads from China, a move that could deal a blow to the US technology giant's sales globally.
Yang said the best option to resolve the legal dispute would be an out-of-court settlement. The next hearing of the case is due for February 22 in Shanghai.
Local media reported recently that Proview was taking legal action, seeking up to 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in compensation from Apple for trademark infringement, but Yang declined to comment on the figure.
"Some people say that Proview wants to take the chance to make a sum of money from Apple and this is tarnishing our company's reputation. We need to clarify what's the truth behind it," Yang said.
Proview Technology (Shenzhen) is a unit of troubled Hong Kong-listed Proview International Holdings, which used to be one of the world's top monitor makers until the financial crisis in 2008 crippled its business and operations.
Proview International, whose shares have been on a trading halt since August 2010, posted a net loss of HK$755.8 million ($97 million) in the six months ended December 2009, which was the last time it published financial results.
Apple says it bought Proview's worldwide rights to the trademark in 10 different countries several years ago, including rights to the iPad name from a Taiwan subsidiary of Proview International. However, Proview Technology (Shenzhen) says the sale did not cover the trademark's use in China, where it owns the iPad name.
Yang said the company had been developing a tablet product called the iPad back in 2000. "We spent a lot of resources on it. It's the same concept as the iPad today, except that back then, there were practically no LCD screens," Yang said. - Reuters