Apple's Chinese operations are in the spotlight, with the company taking steps to address criticisms of the working conditions of the assemblers of its devices, as reports surface of some iPads being seized due to the legal dispute over the name.
Apple on Monday announced that it has asked the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to conduct an independent audit of Apple's assembly suppliers, including the Foxconn factories in Shenzhen and Chengdu.
FLA, a Washington-based labor rights group which Apple joined in January, plans to interview thousands of employees about working and living conditions.
The interviews will cover issues such as health and safety, pay and working hours, Apple said, adding that its suppliers have pledged their full co-operation with the audit.
Apple has faced heat over the conditions of the workers assembling its devices since reports surfaced alleging rough treatment and exploitation of employees at Foxconn, a China-based manufacturer that assembles products for a range of technology companies including Apple.
But Apple has long insisted it conducts its own annual audits of the conditions at its suppliers, including Foxconn.
Separately, Chinese investigators have started seizing iPads from retailers in a northern Chinese city, after a complaint from Shenzhen Proview Technology, which claims to own the iPad name, Associated Pressreported.
Shenzhen Proview sued Apple earlier this month, claiming it registered the trademark for the iPad name in China in 2000. The company also filed a trademark violation complaint in January.
The company has reportedly asked authorities in over 20 cities to investigate and act on the alleged trademark violation, suggesting that more store seizures could take place.