Apple’s Trademark Problems Mount in China

Posted February 20th, 2012 at 2:30 am (UTC-5)
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A potentially costly dispute over the name of the iPad computer tablet may not be the only trademark problem facing Apple Incorporated in China.

The China Daily newspaper reports Monday that at least 39 Chinese companies and individuals have attempted to register the names iPhone or iPad as trademarks for products as varied as hiking shoes, veterinary drugs and diapers.

The newspaper says six manufacturers, including a flashlight manufacturer, got as far as preliminary approval before their applications were challenged.

The disclosure comes as a dispute over the iPad name has led authorities in several cities to seize the hand-held computers from Chinese retailers, threatening iPad sales in the world’s largest computer market and, potentially, Apple’s ability to export the tablets from the country where they are made.

A financially troubled Chinese company, Proview Technology, says it registered the iPad trademark in China in 2001, but Apple says it bought rights to the trademark in 10 countries from a Proview affiliate in Taiwan.

Apple has won a court judgment in its favor in Hong Kong, but Proview has won a favorable ruling from a court in the southern Chinese manufacturing hub of Shenzhen.

The dispute has captured the attention of China’s massive Internet audience, becoming the most-searched topic last week on the nation’s top search engine, Baidu.

An article in the Yangzi Evening News lists a number of suggestions from Chinese web users in the event that Apple loses its rights to the iPad name in China.

Many suggest putting another letter or number in front of the word “Pad,” including the numeral “1” which looks like the letter “i.”

Other suggestions included myPad, trueipad and JobsPad in reference to the late Apple chief executive, Steve Jobs.