This is China's iPad. The One Apple Is Getting Sued Over.

Apple's iPads are disappearing from Chinese stores shelves. The reason is that a Chinese company called Proview is contesting the use of the iPad moniker.

Proview originally trademarked the term "iPad" for a computer. This is Proview's iPad. It looks nothing like Apple's. That doesn't matter.

Proview's iPad is short for "Internet Personal Access Device". It featured a large CRT monitor, a mouse, a keyboard, and this slogan: "The iPad of development constructs on the dream of technology founded human spirit."

Today in Beijing, Proview Shenzhen president Rongshan Yang gave a press conference regarding its lawsuit. "Throughout the whole affair, Apple has been trying to cheat Proview of their money and rights," said Yang.

Proview Technology's branch sold Apple the "iPad" name, but last year, Apple lost a court case in China regarding the use of that name. Proview is now filing complaints with various Chinese courts. After Apple lost the court case last Dec., Proview has sent requests to various local governments to have iPads removed from sale. They also filed an injunction this month to prevent Apple imports and exports to and from China. It's worth noting that the iPad is still on sale in both Beijing and Shanghai.

This is China's iPad. The One Apple Is Getting Sued Over.

Apparently, Proview tried to stop Apple from using the name "iPod" in 2003, because it was too close to their "iPad" trademark. Proview—which is divided up into Proview Shenzhen, Proview Taipei, Proview Hong Kong—is contending that it sold the iPad intellectual property rights to an IP firm with the stipulation that the company that purchases it cannot make products similar to its iPad—apparently that it could be an e-reader or hand-controlled. (At the time, the "controlled by hand" stipulation probably referred to the mouse.)

Proview Shenzhen is contending that while Proview Taipei did sell the iPad name to Apple, it violated these stipulations. Moreover, Proview Shenzhen contests that separate Proview entities cannot make contractual decisions on its behalf. Thus, Apple does not have the right to use the iPad moniker in the Mainland.

Here's where things get murky. According to Chinese news source Sina, Proview Shenzhen went broke in Aug. 2010. The Bank of China is now apparently one of 9 companies that own Proview—meaning it's owned by the Chinese government. Apple, it seems, is going up against more than a small bankrupt company. It's going up against China.

唯冠科技发布会现场图 [Sina]

唯冠召开iPad维权发布会:起诉苹果是维权 [Sina]

iPad商标纠纷史 [Sina]

(Top photo: Sina)