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Apple Looking to Open Stores in Shenzhen and Chengdu

Apple is looking to open new stores in Shenzhen and Chengdu, despite a legal dispute with a Shenzhen-based company over the iPad trademark.

In the midst of a battle with Proview Technology over the iPad trademark, Apple is looking to open two new flagship stores, according to government officials yesterday, in the cities of Chengdu and Shenzhen. Opening the stores would boost Apple’s business in China tremendously, as they currently only have five mainland stores open, three in Shanghai and two in Beijing.

China is rapidly growing in importance to Apple. In April, Apple reported that its quarterly profit had almost doubled after a large jump in iPhone sales; most of that increase had come from mainland China. But more legal action could result if Apple tries to sell its iPads in Shenzhen. Robert Xie, a lawyer for Proview Technology, which is based in Shenzhen, said that Proview would seek an injunction against Apple if they tried to sell their tablets in Shenzhen.

Currently, Apple and Proview are locked in a legal dispute in the Higher People’s Court in Guangzhou over the right to use the iPad trademark, which Proview claims it owns. Both sides are reportedly in the midst of court-mediated negotiations.

Apple’s flagship stores are usually the center of attention for tech-savvy consumers, with people constantly coming in to tinker with the latest products, especially during product launches, when huge crowds of Apple fans and tech enthusiasts gather at the stores like pilgrims traveling to a religious site. But Apple also faces the problems of unauthorized resellers, who take smuggled imports of their products to less wealthy cities for resale, and piracy, a problem so all-pervading in China that entire counterfeit Apple stores have been set up, with employees who thought they were truly working for Apple.

Apple submitted documents on Monday to the government in Shenzhen to open a store in Holiday Plaza, an upscale mall in the Nanshan district. “Apple is in the final stage and only needs to submit an environmental permit in order to gain approval,” an official with the Market Supervision Administration said. Apple received approval in late May to set up a business unit to handle retail sales and after-sales service in Chengdu, located in southwestern China, according to an official with the Chengdu Industry and Commerce Administration bureau. Despite offering no official comment, Apple’s website shows that they are hiring Apple Store staff in Shenzhen and Chengdu.

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