New iPad clears China regulatory hurdle

Apple stills faces a trademark dispute over the iPad name in the country

Apple received Chinese regulatory approval for an iPad device last week, signaling that the company plans on bringing its newest tablet to the country, even as it faces a continuing legal battle over the iPad trademark.

The iPad device was granted the China Compulsory Certification by the China Quality Certification Center according to the regulator's website. The certification is a mandatory stamp necessary for Apple to sell the device in the country.

In China, Apple has historically launched its hottest new products weeks to months after they go on sale in the U.S. While the company has yet to announce when it will launch its newest version of the iPad in the country, unauthorized Chinese Apple vendors have managed to smuggle in their own product and sell them for higher prices.

Apple's iPad sales, however, are already facing Chinese regulatory scrutiny because of an ongoing legal dispute over who owns the iPad trademark name in the country.

Chinese firm Proview claims to have actual ownership of the trademarks since 2001, and denies ever selling them to Apple. The company has filed lawsuits and dozens of complaints with authorities demanding all iPad sales be stopped because of trademark infringement. A higher court in Guangzhou, China, is currently deliberating the case.

3G versions of Apple's iPad will still need Chinese regulatory approval for a network access permit, according to experts. But even with the approval, Chinese authorities could still decide to intervene, given the ongoing trademark dispute, said Sun Peilin, an analyst with Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

Pin-Chen Tang, an analyst with research firm Canalys, however, noted that iPads are still being sold through official channels in China. He expects Apple to face no additional approval in gaining permission to sell its latest iPad in the country.

Apple's iPad dominated China's tablet market at the end of the fourth quarter, with a 69.3% share, according to research firm Canalys.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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