Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is no stranger to legal disputes around the globe over its mobile products, but it’s running into a problem that has nothing to do with patents. Chinese retail stores are being told to take iPads off their shelves in response to a trademark dispute between Apple and Proview Technologies, potentially hurting sales in what Apple CEO Tim Cook considers one of Apple’s most important markets.
Reuters reported, citing Chinese media reports, that stores carrying the iPad in cities like Shanghai and Qingdao have been told to stop selling iPads until the dispute can be resolved. Proview Technologies claims that it owns the rights to the “iPad” trademark in China, and while authorities in Qingdao said they hadn’t ordered a halt to sales, authorities in other cities have intervened on Proview’s behalf, including the town of Shijiazhuang earlier this week.
Apple told China Daily (via 9to5Mac.com) that it had actually purchased the rights to use the trademark from Proview in the past, but that Proview is refusing to honor that agreement in mainland China despite a court ruling in Hong Kong in Apple’s favor. Given that the “one country, two systems” policy means mainland China operates under different rules, Apple may have trouble keeping one of its fastest growing products ever launched on store shelves in one of the biggest consumer electronics markets in the world, one cited as vital to Apple’s future growth by Cook in comments to financial analysts earlier in the week.