Court Reportedly Rules Against Apple In China As The iPads Keep Rolling Out Of Foxconn

A local court in the Guangdong province of China has apparently ruled against Apple in its ongoing case against Proview over the iPad trademark, with the decision that distributors should stop selling iPad tablets in China.

The news is a step in the opposite direction from last week, when it looked like Apple was gaining the upper hand over Proview, with a court ruling in Apple’s favor, and documents detailing a brand-name transaction between the two companies. Apple’s legal representatives are now also threatening legal action against Proview for defamation.

But while that Apple China story continues to remain murky, another one is getting more light shed on it: amid the saga around working conditions at the Foxconn plants that make Apple devices like the iPad comes a new video of what life is like inside one of the plants that make them.

In the Proview trademark dispute, a lawyer for Proview, Xie Xianghui, told the Associated Press (via CNBC) that the Intermediate People’s Court in Huizhou, in the Guangdong province, had ruled against Apple and that “distributors should stop selling iPads in China.”

But it appears that the bureaucratic Chinese legal system is playing a role here, too: Proview has lodged cases in different municipalities, and so this decision, even if it is put in place, may not have much of an impact on a national level. AP notes that Proview has taken its case to no less than 40 cities to request blocks on sales.

The situation is all the more confusing because last week, Apple actually appeared to get a favorable ruling over the same trademark issues. In arguing that case, it also emerged that Apple had documentation proving their ownership of the trademark, which Proview had originally registered in 2001 but Apple bought for $55,000. (One court in China in December ruled that Proview was not bound by that agreement.)

Apple’s case is still pending in mainland China, while it has also lodged an appeal against a separate Proview ruling in the same province.

Update: More intrigue in this trademark dispute. It has also emerged that Apple’s legal representatives have sent a letter (first reported by PC World) to Proview outlining the story as it sees it, and ending it with a threat that they “reserve all rights to take further legal action” against those who make defamatory statements or interfere with Apple’s business as a result.

Meanwhile, the Foxconn video, which will be broadcast on “Nightline” on ABC on Tuesday, is the first time that a news organization has been able to film inside the factories that assemble Apple products. In the video preview posted at the link above, the lighting is bright, the workers diligent and the environment almost hospital-like.

That ABC needed Apple and Foxconn’s permission to film may raise questions over whether there is still a story that is not being told — although to be fair we are getting to see more here than ever before, and for those who are always on the search for more information, that can only be a good thing.