Final determination given in Toyo design infringement claim

In its final determination on the tyre design patent infringement complaint that was filed by Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd. and Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas on 20 September 2013, the US International Trade Commission issued limited exclusion orders and cease-and-desist orders to the eight remaining respondents. These orders prohibit them from importing or selling any infringing tyres. Each respondent was found to be in default and in violation of the law prior to the 28 July determination.

A number of Toyo and Nitto brand passenger car and light truck tyre designs are protected by design patents issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Toyo originally filed complaints before the International Trade Commission against 23 manufacturers, exporters, importers, distributors and dealers located in China, Thailand and the US. Of the 23 respondents, 15 had earlier agreed to settle the complaint. In addition to the ITC action, Toyo also filed several companion Federal district court cases, most of which have now been resolved.

As part of the settlements, the 15 respondents agreed to cease-and-desist from importing and selling the infringing products, and to promptly dispose of any remaining inventory. Several of the manufacturers agreed to destroy moulds used to produce the named products, and some paid an undisclosed cash sum to Toyo. All of the settling respondents also agreed not to manufacture, market or distribute other tyres that Toyo believed infringes on its intellectual property rights, but which were not a part of the International Trade Commission action.

“Toyo makes considerable investments in developing unique and proprietary tyre designs. The designs are well-recognised and well-received in the marketplace, and represent the quality and aesthetic appeal that our customers have come to expect and recognize from our Toyo Tires and Nitto brands,” said Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas’ senior vice-president and general counsel, Iori Suzuki. “Toyo appreciates the ITC’s recognition of our design patents, and their enforcement of our intellectual property rights against infringers. We will continue to vigorously defend our patents against infringement.”

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