iPad Issues in China: Amazon Not an Authorized Retailer, Apple's Victory in Hong Kong Trademark Case
Earlier today, we noted that the iPad had been pulled from sale at online retailers Amazon China and Suning.com, with the development coming just days after authorities had seized some iPads over a trademark dispute involving the "iPad" name. At the time of the removal, an Amazon China spokesperson indicated that the iPad had been removed at Apple's request rather than as a result of actions associated with the trademark dispute, but Apple's reasons for the request were unknown.
The Wall Street Journal now reports that Apple did indeed request that Amazon China remove the iPad from sale, simply due to Amazon China not being an officially authorized retailer.
The Cupertino, Calif., consumer electronics giant asked Amazon in China to stop selling iPads because it is not an authorized reseller, according to people familiar with the matter. Amazon has since removed iPads offered by other resellers on its Chinese website as well.
The report's sources indicate that the move was not specifically related to the ongoing trademark dispute, although the timing suggests that it perhaps did play some role in the decision, if only by spurring Apple to reassess iPad distribution in China and tie up any loose ends.
While Chinese courts have so far ruled against Apple in the trademark dispute with Proview Technology, Apple has noted that it did win a court case on the issue in Hong Kong last year. The Wall Street Journal's report offers some additional details on that decision, which held that Proview and its subsidiaries had conspired against Apple in a scheme to extract more money from Apple.
The court said, in its findings, that Proview, its subsidiaries and at least one other company had combined together "with the common intention of injuring Apple," by breaching the agreement over the iPad name. The court, calling the event a conspiracy, further said Proview had "attempted to exploit the situation as a business opportunity," by asking for money.
"It is accordingly important that (Apple) is able to secure and obtain the China trademarks," the court wrote in its decision.
Proview reportedly failed to transfer the iPad trademark assignment in China to Apple as required by a 2009 agreement, instead demanding that Apple pay $10 million for the rights. Proview is now seeking as much as $1.6 billion in damages in Chinese courts.