A judge in a Chinese court may have thrown a wrench into Apple’s smooth-running retail operations after finding that the Taiwanese-owned company Proview Technology owns the trademark for the iPad.
More specifically, the Financial Times reported, Proview has owned the trademark for “IPAD” for years, and the two companies have disagreed over whether or not a 2006 deal that granted Apple the “global trademark” to the name in several countries included rights for China or not.
The ruling, from the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, denied Apple’s request to brand it the rightful owner of the IPAD trademark in China. Apple can appeal the decision.
If Apple loses its fight to stop a block on its products due to trademark infringement, it might have to stop selling its tablet in the two Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Huizhou, the report said.
Apple has made no secret of ambitions to charge into the Chinese consumer market; Apple CEO Tim Cook has said publicly several times that China is one of the company’s largest potential growth markets.
The news comes at a time when Apple is embroiled in several intellectual property disputes with makers of Android-based smartphones over software copyright infringement. Those cases have so far tended to swing in Apple’s favor, but this trademark dispute appears to be the exception.