Lenovo, the world’s No. 2 PC maker, dominates sales in its home market of China except in tablets where Apple’s iPads are increasingly popular.

However, as tablet popularity explodes worldwide in 2012, Lenovo is getting some further help in China where authorities have begun seizing iPads. The reason is a dispute over ownership of the name ‘iPad” by a Chinese company.

Whether the impact will be long-term remains to be seen, but in the short term Lenovo stands to benefit if iPads are off the market.

According to Digitimes, a research and news firm based in Taiwan, tablet sales will explode this year with a growth rate of 60 percent and shipments of more than 95 million units.

Apple is expected to dominate at 57 million units shipped followed by Amazon’s Kindle and Samsung.

Lenovo, which maintains its executive headquarters in Morrisville, is grouped with several other manufacturers at a projected shipment level of 2.5-3 million. The company reported another strong quarter last week.

“The global economic situation does not seem too pessimistic in 2012,” Digitimes reported. “Demand for mobile computing will rise steadily and the price-performance ratio of tablet devices will improve. And there will be improvements to the software and hardware support for Android-based tablets. These factors all contribute to a 60% growth in tablet shipments to 95.10 million units in 2012.”

Read more about the report here.

The IPad China Dispute

Meanwhile, in China, authorities seized iPads from retailers in a city in northern China due to a dispute with a domestic company that says it owns the iPad name, an official said Monday. The Chinese company said it is asking for similar action in more than 20 other cities.

The dispute with Shenzhen Proview Technology threatens to complicate Apple’s efforts to sell its popular tablet computer in China, its fastest-growing market.

Investigators started seizing iPads on Thursday in Shijiazhuang, southwest of Beijing, after receiving letters from Shenzhen Proview, said an official of the economic investigation unit of the city’s Xinhua district. He would give only his surname, Wang.

“All the Apple iPads in the big shopping malls and supermarkets have been taken off shelves in Xinhua district,” said Wang. He wouldn’t say how many devices had been seized or the number of retailers affected.

An Apple Inc. spokeswoman in Beijing, Carolyn Wu, declined to comment.

Cupertino, California-based Apple has five stores in mainland China — two in Beijing and three in Shanghai — and authorized resellers in other cities. Phone calls to the Beijing and Shanghai commercial bureaus, which enforce trademarks, were not answered.

Shenzhen Proview registered the iPad name in China in 2001. Apple bought rights to the name from a Taiwan affiliate, Proview Taipei, that registered it in various countries as early as 2000. The mainland company says it still owns the name in China.

A Chinese court rejected Apple’s complaint in December that Shenzhen Proview was violating its rights to the iPad name. The court ruled Proview is not bound by a 2009 agreement under which Proview Taipei transferred the trademarks to Apple for 35,000 pounds ($54,700).
Shenzhen Proview says it filed a trademark violation complaint in January with the commercial bureau of Beijing.

The company has asked authorities in more than 20 cities to investigate and to destroy promotional materials that violate its trademark, said its lawyer, Xie Xianghui. He declined to identify the cities, saying that might disrupt investigations.

“We haven’t made a demand for economic compensation. We will pursue it through another channel,” Xie said.

Shenzhen Proview Technology is a subsidiary of LCD screen maker Proview International Holdings Ltd., headquartered in Hong Kong.

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