NPR reports on aftermath of Pegatron explosions

With Apple currently allowing the Fair Labor Association to inspect the working conditions of its supply chains abroad, a new report from NPR profiled 25 of the 59 workers injured in an explosion at the Pegatron iPad factory in Shanghai, China last December (audio here – MP3). The explosion was attributed to a build-up of aluminum particles. According to Pegatron, it started in the machinery meant to collect the dust. Today’s report from NPR gives us a look into the conditions of the Shanghai plant before, during, and after the explosion from the eyes of workers.

A similar explosion months before in May at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu was the focus of The New York Times’ recent story sparking controversy over Apple’s suppliers. Zhang Qing explained to NPR that Apple inspected the Shanghai factory just hours before the explosion:

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Apple: iPad has become brandnomer for tablets, letting Proview use the moniker would hurt and confuse consumers

The iPad maker is defending its moniker by insisting the device became synonymous with both the company name and the tablets. PCWorld quotes Apple’s legal representatives who argued at the Guangdong Province Higher People’s Court hearing this morning that Apple made the iPad name famous in the first place:

Among consumers across the world, the iPad trademark is already uniquely connected with Apple. When consumers see a tablet with an iPad trademark, they know it comes from Apple, and not from another company.

No ruling occurred during the six-hour long hearing, and the judges adjourned without setting a new court date. Should Apple lose the appeal, Proview’s request to put a sales ban on the iPad in 30 Chinese cities will go-ahead. Moreover, Apple would risk lawsuits seeking damages. Last week, the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court rejected a preliminary iPad sales injunction until the Guangdong court made its ruling on the appeal.

Apple’s argument might actually backfire, because its legal standoff with Proview has blown up. Wikipedia claims, “A trademark owner takes a risk in engaging in such a corrective campaign because the campaign may serve as an admission that the trademark is generic.” I am not a lawyer, but it seems obvious Apple might be calling upon itself long-term damage with this testimony.

Arguing that the iPad became a generic term for tablets theoretically means anyone could use it as a descriptor. Besides, why do you think Proview brought this battle to the United States? The opposite argument is that Apple actually owns the iPad name, and it is the only company marketing a product that became synonymous for tablets in the first place.

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Apple prevails in Shanghai showdown with Proview, iPad sales allowed to continue

The embattled monitor maker Proview, fighting Apple over rights to the iPad name in China, suffered a blow as the Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court rejected a preliminary injunction against the sale of the iPad. This means Apple can continue selling iPads in its flagship Shanghai stores without fear (and embarrassment) of sales suspension.

The hearings are now postponed, because both companies are awaiting the results of a separate case in the Guangdong provincial high court, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

Proview had sought the injunction, saying it owns the iPad trademark in China. Apple, which contends that it previously purchased the rights to the iPad name from Proview, had applied in Shanghai to suspend proceedings on Wednesday. Ma Dongxiao, an attorney representing Proview, said the company doesn’t yet have a response.

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No more iPhones in Beijing and Shanghai ‘for the time being’, Apple warns as analysts criticize China launch delays

Yesterday’s eagerly awaited iPhone 4S launch in China quickly turned into chaos as an ugly brawl between gangs of professional scalpers grew out of control. Beijing SWAT teams intervened to calm down hundreds of angry customers and tame the rowdy lines. The New York Times explained that scalpers hired migrant workers to stand in the line and buy the phone. As Apple said it would not open the store, those individuals, identifiable by matching armbands or hats, got angry because they were not going to be paid.

An Apple spokeswoman issued the  following statement following the incident (via Reuters):

Unfortunately, we were unable to open our store at Sanlitun due to the large crowd. And to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees, iPhones will not be available in our retails stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being.

Instead, Apple noted, customers could order the iPhone 4S on the online Apple store or through one of the many China Unicom retail outlets, the country’s exclusive iPhone carrier. However, the iconic smartphone was out of stock on the Chinese online Apple Store at the time of this writing.

As you know, Apple rarely goes on the record unless absolutely necessary, so the statement is an indication of how the launch spiraled out of control. Moreover, the egg-throwing incident inspired funny remarks on Twitter. Really, who goes to buy a new iPhone with a pocket full of eggs? Let’s just hope this situation won’t snowball into a public relations nightmare and become a theme for another anti-Apple advert by Samsung.

In the meantime, one analyst pointed out that Apple must learn from this turmoil and consider launching its products in China and United States simultaneously. Another incredible riot clip, egg throwing video and additional tidbits are displayed after the break.


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Huge lines form at Apple Stores in China for iPhone 4S launch

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     The gallery above via Flickr user Liz Phung shows more shots from the launch in Beijing. There are also two images of  employees receiving their first shipments at China Unicom in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province (via xinhuanet). 

It is just over 8 hours before the iPhone 4S officially lands in China and huge lines already starting to form outside of Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai. The image below is from Instagram user Sanverde who noted he snapped the shot outside an Apple Store in Sanlitun Village, Beijing less than an hour ago. As you can see from the daytime image in the slideshow above (posted by Twitter user Alexander Galimberti on Jan. 10), Beijing line sitters started showing up for tonight’s launch days in advance. To the right is an image from Instagram user sainasilverman who says 400,000 units of the iPhone 4S have now arrived in Beijing.

China Unicom, the only carrier currently offering the iPhone 4S, does not currently accept pre-orders, but it will be offering the 16GB and 32GB models free on two- and three-year agreements. China Telecom, the nation’s third largest mobile carrier, is also expected to offer the iPhone in the future. The device recently received necessary approval from the China Radio Management agency for use on its CDMA network.

Check out the most recent shot of the lines outside the Sanlitun Village, Beijing Apple Store after the break and some more shots of gray market line sitters wearing red hats. According to MIC Gadget, those wearing a red cap have been paid 100 yuan ($16) to line up for the 12+ hour wait. We will be updating with more shots, so email your photographs of the lines to us at tips@9to5mac.com Read more