Apple has been indulging in trademark and patent battles with a number of different companies, usually successfully. This time, however, the Cupertino, Calif.-based giant has suffered a setback. The company lost a trademark lawsuit, in China, against a Chinese company, last weekend.

The Municipal Intermediate People's Court in Shenzhen, a southern Chinese city neighboring Hong Kong, earlier this week rejected a lawsuit by Apple accusing Proview Technology (Shenzhen) of infringing on its iPad trademark.

The result is that Apple may have to sell its tablets, branded iPad, under a different name in China, or pay $1.6 billion to Proview Technology for using the name. According to details, Proview Taipei registered iPad in some countries and regions in 2000 and Proview Shenzen registered the trademark in China in 2001.

Apple bought the trademark from Proview Taipei, in 2009, prior to the launch of the first iPad. However, Proview Shenzen reserved the trademark for China.

Apple's actions are strange. They had not obtained the rights to use the 'iPad' trademark when they began to sell the iPad on the Chinese mainland in September last year, Huang Yiding of the Hejun Vanguard Group's public relations department was quoted as saying, by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Their copyright infringement is very clear. The laws are still there and they sell their products in defiance of laws. The more products they sell, the more they need to compensate, he added.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, called has  China an area of enormous opportunity, and noted he has never seen a country with as many people rising into the middle class aspiring to buy products his company makes.