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Chinese 'iPad' trademark owner looking to block sales of Apple's iPad globally

Proview, the company that claims ownership of the "iPad" name in China, has asked the Chinese government to block exportation of Apple's iPad, which would effectively bring global sales to a halt.

Proview International Holdings Ltd. lawyer Roger Xie told Bloomberg on Tuesday that his company has been unable to reach an agreement with Apple over the iPad trademark. The company makes computer displays and is based out of Hong Kong.

It has now asked China's customs bureau to block both the importation and exportation of the iPad. For its part, Apple has argued that it bought the rights to Proview's iPad trademark in China, as well as nine other countries. A spokeswoman said Proview "refuses to honor" their existing agreement with Apple.

The filing comes soon after reports that Chinese authorities began seizing iPad 2 units in at least one city. The local Administration of Industry and Commerce in Shijiazhuang in the norther province of Hebei reportedly confiscated 45 iPad units from resellers over two days, due to claims of trademark infringement from Proview.

While just 45 iPads were seized in that incident, there have been no other reports of Apple's touchscreen tablet being removed from the market in China because of the Proview suit. But with the trademark holder's latest filing, the effect could be felt well beyond China.

If Proview wins and exportation of the iPad were to be blocked from China, it could result in a global stoppage of sales, as all iPad units are currently built in China. Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn is looking to assemble iPads in Brazil, but as of late January production had not yet begun there.

Proview's filing comes only weeks before Apple is expected to unveil its third-generation iPad at an event rumored to take place on March 7. The so-called "iPad 3" is expected to feature a high-resolution Retina Display, and may even be the first 4G LTE high-speed wireless device sold by Apple.