Chinese court rejects injunction to stop iPad sales at Apple stores

Apple faces a possible ban on iPad sales in China because a trademark dispute

A request for a legal injunction that would have forced Apple to halt iPad sales in its Shanghai stores has been rejected, giving the U.S. tech giant a small victory as it faces an ongoing trademark dispute in China over the iPad name.

A Shanghai court said in a statement on Thursday that it would not grant the injunction requested by Chinese company Proview, which acquired the iPad trademark in 2001 and is fighting with Apple over its ownership. The court said it would postpone further hearings until a ruling was made in another Chinese court, where ownership of the trademark is expected to be decided.

Previously, Apple had been dealt a legal blow when in December a court in Shenzhen, China rejected the company's claims to the iPad trademark. Apple, however, is appealing the decision in the Guangdong provincial high court, which is scheduled to have its hearing on the case next week.

Because the Guangdong court has yet to review the case, ownership of the iPad trademark is still unclear, the Shanghai court said.

Proview, which is facing bankruptcy, has filed legal action and complaints with regulatory officials to stop iPad sales in the country. On Friday, a court in the Chinese city of Huizhou ruled that local electronics retailer Sundan had to halt iPad sales at one of its stores because of trademark infringement. A lawyer with Sundan said the company is considering appealing the decision.

Ma Dongxiao, a lawyer for Proview, said the Shanghai court's ruling was not the final decision on the matter. More than 30 regulatory offices across the country are investigating iPad sales, according to Proview. A representative for the company said last Friday it wants Apple to pay US$400 million to buy the trademark.

Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu said Proview refuses to honor its agreement with the company after Apple bought the trademarks several years ago.

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