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Apple sidesteps iPad ban in Shanghai, but Proview is far from done

A lower court says Apple will be allowed to sell the iPad around Shanghai, but similar attempts to ban the device are being brought to other courts around the country.

Apple's iPad is still available in Shanghai.
Apple's iPad is still available in Shanghai.

One down, many, many more to go.

Apple yesterday won a key court battle in Shanghai that will allow the company to keep its iPad on store shelves within the city's walls, Reuters is reporting today, citing a source. Proview brought the case against Apple, alleging that Apple is violating its trademark by using the iPad name, and should therefore have its products banned from sale.

Apple's victory is not major, but it's an important one. The company currently has three flagship stores in Shanghai, and to not sell the iPad in those retail locations would have been a significant embarrassment for the company.

Apple and Proview have been engaged in a bitter trademark dispute for years now. Proview claims Apple is violating its trademark by using the iPad name in China. Apple says it acquired worldwide rights to the iPad name long ago.

"We bought Proview's worldwide rights to the iPad trademark in 10 different countries several years ago," an Apple representative told CNET earlier this week. "Proview refuses to honor their agreement with Apple in China."

So far, electronics maker Proview has been somewhat successful. Some retail outlets around China have pulled iPads from store shelves following complaints made by Proview, and late last week, the Intermediate People's Court in the city of Huizhou ruled that the iPad could not be sold within its borders. The Associated Press reported earlier this week that Proview has brought similar cases to courts in 40 cities.

The chances of a nationwide ban on the iPad in China are slim. Earlier this week, Proview chief executive Yang Long-san told Reuters in an interview that China's customs division won't block Apple's products because they're so popular.

"The customs have told us that it will be difficult to implement a ban because many Chinese consumers love Apple products," Long-san said. "The sheer size of the market is very big. We have applied to some local customs for the ban and they'll report to the headquarters in Beijing."

But Apple's troubles with Proview could extend far beyond China. Last week, it was revealed by Hejun Vanguard Group, a consulting firm that's working with creditors to restructure Proview, which has filed for bankruptcy, that it's selecting law firms to sue Apple in the U.S. for alleged trademark infringement. Proview is hoping to secure $2 billion in damages.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on the Shanghai court's ruling.