Now Proview aims at the heart of Apple's iPad sales in Shanghai
The court battle to stop Apple selling its iPads in China has moved to Shanghai, the country's largest city with a population of 19 million.
The Proview IPAD
The Chinese technology firm Proview argued at a local court hearing today that the U.S. firm had infringed its trademark and asked for iPads to be removed from local shops.
Previous court rulings in favour of Proview Technology have been in smaller cities, said the San Jose Mercury News. But a Shanghai order, if imposed, would be hard to take. Three of the country's five Apple stores are located in the city.
Proview, which produced a computer called the iPAD in 1998, has also petitioned Chinese customs to stop shipments of the iPad in and out of China. With China the major production base for the iPad , that would seriously embarrass Apple - but observers believe that is not likely to happen, given Apple's importance to China.
Proview partnered with U.S. chip maker National Semiconductor to produced a computer named the iPAD - short for Internet Personal Access device - in 1998. It later stopped making it.
Apple says Proview sold its trademark rights in 10 countries including China in 2009 to a British company for £35,000 which later sold on the rights to Apple for £10.
The US company said Proview had no ability to produce or sell its own device under the same name. "Proview has no product, no markets, no customers and no suppliers. It has nothing," Hu Jinnan, a partner at a law firm representing Apple, told the court, the Mercury News reported.
"Apple has huge sales in China. Its fans line up to buy Apple products. The ban, if executed, would not only hurt Apple sales but it would also hurt China's national interest."
The Shanghai Court has not said when it will issue its decision. A lawyer for Proview, said it was likely to be soon. Apple could appeal if it lost.
Proview says it owns the iPad trademark in China and a court in Shenzhen, where Preview's original factory is located , ruled in its favour in December. Apple has appealed against that judgment, with a higher court hearing set for February 29 in Guangdong.
A Proview lawyer said they were open to settle the case out of court with Apple.
"Both sides have willingness to negotiate," he told reporters outside the court. Rumoured figures are a far cry from the original £35,000 deal - ranging as high as $2 billion.
"Official negotiation hasn't started yet, and both sides will submit their plans before the talks. A settlement outside the court is quite possible," said the Proview lawyer. "