Apple has paid $60 million to settle a dispute in China over ownership of the iPad name, a court announced Monday, removing a potential obstacle to sales of the popular tablet computer in the key Chinese market.

Apple's dispute with Shenzhen Proview Technology highlighted the possible pitfalls for global companies in China's infant trademark system. It also posed a challenge for the communist government, which wants to attract technology investors to develop China's economy.

Apple Inc. says it bought the global rights to the iPad name from Proview in 2009, but Chinese authorities say the rights in China were never transferred. A Chinese court ruled in December that Proview still owned the name in China. Proview, which is struggling financially, asked Chinese authorities to seize iPads in an apparent effort to pressure Apple to settle.

China is Apple's second-largest market after the United States and the source of much of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's sales growth.

Proview hoped for more money but felt pressure to settle because it needs to pay debts, said a lawyer for the company, Xie Xianghui.

The dispute centered on whether Apple acquired the iPad name in China when it bought rights in various countries from a Proview affiliate in Taiwan for 35,000 British pounds ($55,000).

The case gave Chinese authorities a chance to show that their courts could impartially resolve intellectual property disputes but also raised the possibility that technology investors might be put off by a negative outcome for Apple. -- AP

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