Apple has lost a long-running legal battle against a Taiwanese-owned company that it claimed was illegally using its iconic iPad trademark in China, court officials and state media said.
A court in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen ruled that Apple lacked "supporting facts and evidence" for its claim that Proview Technology (Shenzhen) was infringing the US company's iconic tablet computer trademark.
Apple declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
Proview Technology (Shenzhen) is owned by a Taiwanese company that registered the trademark name "ipad" in several countries including China as early as 2000, years before Apple began selling the iconic tablet.
Apple paid 35,000 pounds (NZ$70,755) or the global trademark rights in 2009, but Proview Technology (Shenzhen) retained the Chinese rights, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The companies have been embroiled in a legal battle ever since, it said.
A company charged with restructuring the debts of Proview Technology (Shenzhen), which is on the brink of bankruptcy, said after the ruling that Proview would seek 10 billion yuan (NZ$1.29 billion) from Apple for copyright infringement, Xinhua said.
Apple started selling its sleek iPad in China in September 2010, after months of grey-market action among avid buyers unwilling to wait for the official launch.
Greater China - which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan - has become Apple's fastest growing region, with revenue there second only to the United States.