Apple fans are expecting the tech giant to debut iPad 3 on March 7, or at least in the first week of March, if rumors are to be believed, but they could be in store for disappointment - Apple might delay the release of iPad 3 as iPad tablets have been banned in China over a bitter trademark dispute between the tech giant and Proview – a bankrupt Chinese company.

Both the companies have been wrangling since the past few weeks over who is the right owner of the iPad trademark in Mainland China. Last Friday, the Intermediate People’s Court in China ruled in favor of Proview, banning distributors from selling iPad in China. The iPad trademark was originally registered in 2001 in China. In 2009, or a year prior to releasing the iPad, Apple secured the rights to use the iPad name via a contract with Proview’s Taiwan-based subsidiary called Proview Electronics. However, Hong Kong-based holding company Proview International said Apple never got the rights to use the name iPad in China, as it still belonged to another subsidiary in Shenzhen, called Proview Technology.

Now Apple is planning to hit back and has threatened to sue Proview. In a terse letter, Apple said it will sue Proview for defamation. Apple said that Proview promised to transfer the trademark in 2009 by accepting their £35,000 offer. Proview founder Yang Rogshan, however, said that the iPad trademark in China was never transferred to Apple and the tech giant had cheated them by using a front company to engage in the negotiations and enter the deal.

Nonetheless, Apple in the letter to Proview, said it is inappropriate to release information contrary to the facts to the media, especially when such disclosures have the effect of wrongfully causing damage to Apple’s reputation. The tech giant has also accused Proview of taking advantage of Hong Kong law and managing their lawyers and agents inappropriately. The letter was signed was by King & Wood on the behalf of Apple Inc.

On the other hand, Proview is demanding $400 million to drop all the charges against Apple. It looks like Proview is keen on a settlement but it’s too early to say whether Apple is ready to shake hands with Proview.

Rather, the threat of defamation lawsuit indicates Apple could be gearing up for a long term battle with Proview, and if that happens, it will result in delaying the debut of the iPad 3.

(Reported by Johnny Wills, Edited by Surojit Chatterjee)

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