China's Proview warns dealers to stop iPad sales

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Associated Press

Posted on March 8, 2012 at 4:01 AM

Updated Thursday, Mar 8 at 6:01 AM

SHANGHAI (AP) — The Chinese company challenging Apple's use of the iPad brand name has demanded a halt to sales and distribution of the device in China, just as Apple unveiled its latest version of the popular tablet computer.

Shenzhen Proview Technology issued the demand in an open letter to China iPad vendors and dealers, threatening "severe measures" against trademark infringements.

The letter, reported in local newspapers Thursday, says any use of "IPAD" or similar trademarks is an infringement of Proview's exclusive rights. It says Proview will take "the most severe measures" including pursuing civil and criminal liability.

It was unclear if the letter would exert any sway over iPad sellers in China. Proview, a financially troubled manufacturer of computer monitors and LED lights, has been lobbying local commercial authorities to pull iPads from shelves, with success in some cities.

Apple unveiled its latest version of the iPad on Wednesday in the U.S., outlining its new features but not releasing a name, such as "iPad 3," or "iPad HD."

Cupertino, California-based Apple says it bought worldwide rights to the iPad trademark from Proview in 2009. Proview contends the sale excluded the mainland Chinese trademark. A Chinese court is considering an appeal by Apple of an earlier ruling against its claim to the trademark.

Apple had no comment on Proview's open letter. The company reiterated its position that Proview is refusing, in China, to honor its agreement with Apple to sell the worldwide rights to the iPad trademark.

Chinese media reports, meanwhile, said a group of eight banks that are Proview's creditors have announced they hold ownership of the iPad trademark.

Another major creditor, Taiwan-based Fubon Insurance, is reportedly seeking to have Proview declared bankrupt. However, Proview said in a notice Wednesday to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that the court in the Chinese city where it is headquartered had not yet accepted any bankruptcy petition against it.

Court officials have refused to comment on the issue.

Proview's shares have been suspended from trading since Aug. 2, 2010.

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Researcher Fu Ting contributed to this report.

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