Lower Chinese court rules to halt iPad sales

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Proview, the Shenzhen company that is claiming trademark rights to the 'iPad' name, said it won a small legal victory on Friday as the Intermediate People's Court in Huizhou handed down a ruling against the sale of Apple's ubiquitous tablet.

Citing a statement by Proview's lawyer Xie Xianghui, the Associated Press reported on Monday that the court in China's Guangdong province advised distributors to halt sales of the iPad, though it is unclear what effect the judgment will have on the ongoing dispute.

The ruling further muddies the already complex trademark battle that has seen Proview file suits against Apple in numerous courts; asking commercial authorities to block iPad sales in 40 cities.

Recent reports from customs officials in the country note that such a ban would be difficult to enforce, however, because of the popularity of the device.

There has been no official move to ban Apple's tablet in mainland China, though local authorities in select areas have seized at least 45 units.

Adding to the confusion are conflicting decisions from a December ruling in Proview's favor that is currently under appeal at the High Court in Guangdong, and an earlier ruling from a Hong Kong court that sided with Apple.

Perhaps most difficult is jurisdiction as the suit revolves around claims that Apple made an unauthorized transaction when it purchased the "iPad" name from a Taiwanese affiliate of Shenzhen's Proview Technology, which itself is a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Proview International Holdings.

Proview sued Apple in 2011, claiming that not only is Apple using the "iPad" moniker illegally in China, but allege that the company surreptitiously acquired the trademark through U.K. proxy company IP Application Development in 2010.

The Chinese company is seeking $38 million in damages and an apology from the iPad maker.