Apple fights for 'iPad' in China

A customer leaves with his just-bought iPad 2 at an Apple store on May 6, 2011 in Shanghai, China. Apple's lawyers are currently fighting a court decision that ruled Apple doesn't own the trademarked name "iPad" in China.

Jeremy Hobson: The new iPad unveiled by Apple yesterday will hit store shelves next Friday. But perhaps not in China. A Chinese company has gone to court to prove that Apple doesn't own the trademark for the name 'iPad' there, and shouldn't be able to sell it.

As Marketplace's Rob Schmitz reports from Shanghai, the case is turning into a headache for the Chinese government.


Rob Schmitz: If Apple wins the right to keep the iPad name in China, Chinese companies would likely protest how a big U.S. corporation used its clout to reverse a Chinese court decision. But if Apple should lose this case, other American companies in China will take notice, says Stan Abrams, an intellectual property lawyer in Beijing.

Stan Abrams: They're going to yell about it, there's going to be the usual op-eds about what this means for where things are going, they're going to try to roll it into a big narrative about the state-owned sector and how private companies aren't being treated well; the usual stuff you read every day.

The problem is, says Abrams, they wouldn't necessarily have a reason to complain. Abrams says the Chinese government is proceeding cautiously, not letting politics to enter into the debate. He says that's a reassuring sign that the Apple case, whatever the outcome, won't carry any broader meaning for foreign companies in China.

A Chinese appellate court is expected to issue a final decision on whether Apple can call an iPad 'an iPad' in China within the next few months.

In Shanghai, I'm Rob Schmitz for Marketplace.

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

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