Apple's legal battle with Proview over the iPad patent got a little more troubling for the company today as a lower Chinese court ruled that stores in China should stop selling iPads. While this ruling may only affect the Guangdong province, which is close to the southern coast of the country near Hong Kong, Proview, which is based in China, has 40 other lawsuits going on in other cities throughout China to halt the sales of iPads.
Apple argues that it purchased the worldwide rights to the iPad trademark from Proview but that Proview is now refusing to honor the agreement in China. Proview, alternately, still claims ownership to the trademark and, in addition to trying to halt the sales of the iPad in China, are seeking $2 billion from Apple in the U.S. courts as a means of compensation for Apple's alleged trademark infringement.
In a statement released on Monday, Apple maintained that its case is ongoing in mainland China and it has submitted an appeal to Guandgong's High Court against an earlier decision in favor of Proview. In the statement, Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu reiterated Apple's claim that it purchased the trademark for ten countries several years ago from Proview and a court in nearby Hong Kong has previously sided with Apple.
Thus far, iPads have only been pulled from stores on a city-by-city basis as there has been no national action on the trademark dispute. Given that the iPad 3 will be landing as soon as next month, Apple will undoubtedly be looking to hasten the legal process toward a resolution as quickly as possible. However, given the process of rulings-and-appeals-and-more-rulings, don't be surprised if this continues to drag on for the foreseeable future.
Previous woes resulting from the dispute with Proview have sent Apple's shares stumbling a bit, but no significant losses appear to be happening today - yet. Last week, Apple's shares took a small tumble after news of a ruling in favor of Proview in Shenzhen hit the wires, but Apple shares seem to have slightly recovered and leveled off as of writing this. Then again, all Apple needs to do is shake down another tidbit of iPad 3 info from the rumor tree and their stocks will likely boom again.
Also, if there's one thing Apple knows, it's that you don't put anything between Apple products and Chinese consumers and they've got the resources to continue this fight as long as needed.