Shareholder of Chinese tech firm claims rights to product's name
BEIJING - US technology giant Apple Inc may face a lawsuit in China because a domestic computer screen maker claims it has the rights to the iPad name in the country.
Proview International, a Hong Kong-based technology company, registered the iPad trademark in 2001 and still owns the rights to its use in China, said Li Su, a shareholder of Proview.
Li demanded in a public letter on Wednesday that California-based Apple "immediately stop its rights infringement activities" and hold fresh negotiations with the company.
It is unclear whether Li's remarks also represent those of Proview, which could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.
Li threatened in the letter that Proview will ask the Chinese authorities to "seize relevant Apple products" if the company does not return to the negotiation table over the issue. He said Proview would ask for compensation of 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) from Apple.
Apple started selling its sleek iPad tablet computer in China last month, after months of gray-market action among avid buyers unwilling to wait for the official launch.
Tiffany Yang, spokeswoman for Apple China, refused to comment on Thursday.
In his letter, Li claimed that the main beneficiaries of the iPad trademark in China could be eight Chinese banks, which seized the assets of Proview's Shenzhen branch after the company reported a debt crisis.
In 2007, Apple paid 35,000 pounds ($55,386) for the ownership of the iPad trademark through Proview's Taipei branch.
But Li said that Apple's ownership applies to places outside China, and Chinese ownership of the trademark is still in Proview's Shenzhen branch.
In June, Apple sued Proview International over the ownership of the iPad trademark in the country and stopped negotiations with the company. There has not been a verdict on the case yet.
Proview International, which is listed in Hong Kong, has a debt of nearly 4 billion yuan.
Apple opened two new retail shops on the Chinese mainland last month as it launched the iPhone 4. It now has two shops in Beijing and two more in Shanghai, with a total of 25 outlets expected by the end of next year.
The US company in 2009 paid $3.65 million to take over ownership of the iPhone trademark from Chinese technology company Hanwang Technology, which had owned it in China since 2004.