Proview Seeking to Cut Off Apple's Worldwide Supply of iPads
Earlier this week, we noted that Chinese authorities had begun seizing iPad stocks from a small number of retailers over Apple's alleged infringement of a disputed "iPad" trademark. Apple claims that it purchased the Chinese rights to the trademark several years ago, but the original owner Proview and Chinese courts have disagreed with that assertion.
Bloomberg now notes that Proview is seeking to go beyond local enforcement and is asking Chinese customs officials to block both imports and exports of the iPad over the issue. With iPad production taking place in China, a successful bid by Proview could cut off Apple's supplies of the device throughout the world.
“We are applying to customs to stop any trademark- infringing products from imports to China and also for exports,” said [Proview lawyer Roger] Xie, who is based in Shenzhen. “Apple wants to postpone and continue infringement of the iPad in China.”
Calling a potential export ban "catastrophic" for Apple, one Chinese legal expert notes that pressure on Apple to settle the case has dramatically increased.
A halt to exports from China would be “catastrophic” for Apple because it would mean a global halt to iPad sales, said Stan Abrams, an intellectual property lawyer and a law professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing. The threat of an export ban increases the pressure on Apple to settle the case, he said.
“There’s got to be a settlement, and fairly soon,” Abrams said. “I can’t see how much more incentivized to settle Apple could be.”
Apple continues to maintain that it acquired "worldwide" rights to the iPad in ten countries, including China, as part of an earlier deal. Apple's case is still pending with Chinese courts as it seeks to appeal earlier rulings.