iPad Heading for E-Commerce Sales Ban in China as Yet More Sites Remove It

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Contrasting screenshots of 360Buy's iPad listings yesterday and today.

Yesterday we first broke the story in English of how Amazon China had quit selling the iPad as part of the Apple vs Proview litigation over the iPad trademark. And now a much larger e-commerce store has also cleared its virtual shelves of iPads: 360buy, the second-largest such site in China. At this rate, Apple’s tablet will be facing a blanket e-commerce sales ban.

Luckily I grabbed a screenshot of 360Buy’s iPad listings yesterday, and so we can compare it with the scene today where every single iPad model has had the price removed and replaced with the notice “temporarily not reporting the price” (pictured above). Who knows how ‘temporary’ it’ll be. On the item page, the checkout button still works, but if you add any iPad model to your cart, it just vanishes when you try to checkout.

The nation’s most-used online B2C retailer, Alibaba’s Tmall, is still stocking and selling iPads.

But it’s not just 360Buy that has bowed to legal pressure to safeguard itself – Gome (HKG:00493), which is tiny in terms of internet retailing but huge on the High Street, has removed iPads from its e-commerce site though has not yet done so from its bricks-and-mortar stores.

Proview (HKG:0334) seems to have a very legitimate and strong – ie: a practical, not troll-ish – claim to using the iPad brand in China after Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) apparently failed to resolves its right to use it in the territory.

Proview is also a manufacturer in its own right – though not an OEM partner of Apple – making old-skool CRT and LCD monitors mostly for sale in developing markets. Judging by the pictures from Caixin (see below), its facilities in Shenzhen are somewhat shambolic. Proview was placed in the third-delisting stage in December 2011 and could be kicked out of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange if it doesn’t have its papers in order by this June. But that doesn’t affect its ongoing litigation with Apple.

In the final picture from Caixin, a worker sleeps in a messy corridor at Proview's factory in Shenzhen.

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

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