APPLE’S new iPad may have launched to great fanfare, but the company needs to resolve a new issue with Proview, a Chinese technology firm intent upon banning the sale of the tablet device in China.
Proview Technology, which is fighting Apple over the iPad trademark in a major legal case, has now called for Chinese distributors to cease selling the tablet across the country, in the latest twist of this high profile battle.
Proview, which claims it owns the iPad name, filed a lawsuit against Apple's use of the trademark in mainland China at the Santa Clara Superior Court last month.
It has previously tried to ban the sale of the tablet in China but to no avail. However, in a new attempt, the nearly bankrupt Proview, has sent an open letter to China’s technology supplies and resellers – asking them to stop storing and shipping the iPad as of today.
"Anybody who continues to do so will be seen as intentionally infringing rights and the company will adopt the most severe measures by taking legal action," the letter said.
An attempt by Proview to win an injunction to stop Apple from selling iPads in Shanghai was foiled last month when a court there rejected the case pending the resolution of a similar lawsuit in a higher court in China.
Apple and Proview are now awaiting a ruling by the high court in Guangzhou on the matter.
“This is Proview's strategy to give Apple more pressure in the Chinese market, to try and add another blow to its iPad sales there," Rachel He, a lawyer with the firm Guangdong Sun-Kindle, told Reuters.
Apple was unavailable for comment.
Yesterday, Apple's chief executive, Tim Cook, announced the new iPad which adds an improved display, a faster processor and an upgraded camera to the leading tablet computer.
Proview claims the sale of the iPad China trademark to a company representing Apple by its Taiwanese affiliate in 2009 was invalid. Proview has not challenged the sale of other worldwide rights to the iPad trademark to Apple in the £35,000 deal.
Apple contends that Proview included the mainland Chinese trademark in the sale and says it violated that contract by failing to transfer the trademark rights to Apple.
Proview's lawyers have indicated their company is open to settling its claim to the trademark. In the meantime, the two sides have engaged in legal skirmishes in Hong Kong and in southern China's Guangdong province, where Proview's main office is based.
Proview was once one of the world's leading makers of computer monitors, with sales in 50 countries and more than 7,000 employees in factories in Taiwan and China. But the company's main focus on manufacturing cathode-ray tube displays - the boxy monitors that have since been replaced by LCD screens - appears to have hurt its performance.
The company's website now says it makes LCD displays, LCD televisions and LED lights. But Proview is deep in debt and faces its shares being removed from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
The company developed what it said was an "iFamily" range of products, including iTV, iWeb and iPAD. It launched its iPAD in 2000, but unlike Apple's 2010 tablet computer, it was not a hit.