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Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 01:37 pm PT (04:37 pm ET)

Apple asks Amazon China to pull iPads from sale in midst of trademark dispute

At the request of Apple, iPads have been removed from sale at retailer Amazon's Chinese website, as Apple finds itself involved in a trademark dispute with a Chinese company over the "iPad" name.

The iPad was removed from sale on Amazon China this week at the request of Apple, a spokesman for the website told MIC Gadget. Apple has not officially commented on the matter, but a search for the iPad on the website only returns iPad accessories, or competing tablets made by other companies.

In addition to Amazon China, the iPad has also been removed from another online retailer, Sunning. The iPad remains available for sale at Tmall.com, 360buy and Dangdang, as well as Apple's own online store in China, and its retail outlets.

The removal of the iPad from two online retailers was presumed by the site to be related to an ongoing trademark dispute Apple is engaged in with Proview Technology, though neither party indicated that was the case. Proview is seeking 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in damages from Apple, as well as a formal apology for use of the iPad name.

And on Tuesday, Proview asked the Chinese government to block exportation of the iPad, which would effectively bring global sales to a halt. Currently, Apple has the iPad assembled in China at factories owned and operated by Foxconn.

Chinese authorities began seizing iPad units in the city of Shijazhuang in the northern province this week, though only 45 units were taken from resellers over two days. But that expanded to a second city, as retailers in Xuzhou in coastal Jiangsu Province found their inventory placed under "temporary impoundment" as a result of the lawsuit.

Proview


The seizures and the filing to block exportation were characterized this week by The New York Times as "warnings by Proview of the havoc it could wreak unless Apple agrees to pay a large fee to settle the trademark fight." Apple has argued that it bought the rights to Proview's iPad trademark in China along with nine other countries, and that the company "refuses to honor" their existing agreement with Apple.

Despite Proview's initial success in blocking iPad sales in some areas of China, customs officials in the nation indicated to Proview this week that banning the iPad from export would be "difficult to implement" because of the popularity of the device in the region.