Apple Faces Fight in China as Proview Asks Retailers to Stop Selling IPads

Proview International Holdings Ltd. (334), which claims ownership of the iPad trademark in China, asked retailers to stop selling Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s tablet computer as the dispute between the two companies intensified.

Some retailers halted iPad sales after Proview submitted complaints, Roger Xie, a lawyer representing Hong Kong-traded Proview, said by phone yesterday, declining to identify them. Separately, Internet shopping sites including Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)’s Amazon.cn and 360Buy.com no longer displayed iPads or quoted prices for the product.

Proview, a maker of computer displays, said this week it asked China’s customs bureau to block imports and exports of the iPad after winning a local court decision against Cupertino, California-based Apple over the trademark. Apple quadrupled revenue in China last year after adding stores and expanding online distribution of its products.

Carolyn Wu, a Beijing-based spokeswoman at Apple, declined to comment beyond a statement earlier this week that Apple acquired Proview’s rights to the iPad trademark in 10 countries, including China.

June Jin, a Beijing-based spokeswoman at Amazon, said the unavailability of iPads on the company’s website isn’t related to the trademark dispute. She didn’t elaborate. Calls to the general lines of 360Buy.com in Beijing weren’t answered.

Amazon Removal

Xie, a partner at Grandall Law Firm in Shenzhen, said the customs bureau has not replied to Proview’s requests. Tao Yong, a spokesman at the General Administration of Customs, said he couldn’t immediately comment.

Apple asked Amazon to remove the iPad 2 from its Chinese division because the local site wasn’t authorized to sell the device, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing people it didn’t identify. The action was unrelated to the trademark dispute, according to the report.

Apple sued Proview’s Shenzhen-based unit in 2010, claiming ownership of the iPad trademark in China. The Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court rejected Apple’s claims on Nov. 17, Proview said in a Dec. 15 regulatory filing. Apple appealed that ruling to the Higher People’s Court of Guangdong province on Jan. 5, Proview said in a Jan. 27 filing.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Lee in Hong Kong at wlee37@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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