When Is an iPad Not an iPad? When It’s Sold in China, Says Court

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David Gray / Reuters

A customer looks at an iPad 2 during the China launch at an Apple Store in central Beijing in May 2011.

The iPad: designed by Apple, assembled in China…and now divorced from its own name after falling on the losing side of a patent lawsuit brought against a company located in southern China.

Apple took umbrage last year with Shenzhen-based Proview Technology’s use of the iPad name, first snapping up the European rights to the “iPad” trademark from Proview’s parent company for just shy of $55,000 in 2009, then filing suit earlier this year against the Shenzhen subsidiary for selling products using the “iPad” moniker.

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But a Chinese patent court in Shenzhen disagreed with Apple on Tuesday, rejecting the company’s claims that Proview, a flat-panel display producer, was infringing on its iPad trademark—Proview had reserved the right to continue using the name after Apple purchased its parent company. Proview apparently registered the name “iPad” in several countries in 2000, going on to trademark it on the Chinese mainland in 2001, reports Want ChinaTimes. I’m not sure when Apple registered the name “iPad” stateside, but the first Cupertino-made iPads didn’t go on sale until April 3, 2010.

If this is really what it sounds like, it’s more than minor turbulence for Apple, which began selling the iPad as an “iPad” in China on September 17, 2010. Proview now says it’ll sue Apple for 10 billion yuan (about $1.6 billion USD) for Apple’s infringement of its trademark. And it sounds like it could use the cash: According to Want ChinaTimes, Proview is on the verge of bankruptcy because of debt exacerbated by the recent global financial crises.

“Apple’s actions are strange. They had not obtained the rights to use the ‘iPad’ trademark when they began to sell the iPad on the Chinese mainland in September last year,” said Huang Yiding, a public relations representative with a Beijing-based management consultancy firm helping Proview restructure its debt. “[Apple’s] copyright infringement is very clear. The laws are still there and they sell their products in defiance of the laws. The more products they sell, the more they need to compensate.”

Assuming Apple can’t (or won’t) buy its way out of this one, any bets on what Cupertino ends up calling its slate in China going forward? iLost? The Tablet Formerly Known as iPad?  iLLHaveRevengeSomeday?

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Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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