GREENVILLE, S.C. — Michelin North America Inc. is suing China Manufacturers Alliance L.L.C., claiming patent and copyright infringements involving Double Coin brand designs.
Michelin filed the suit May 4 in U.S. District Court in Greenville against CMA, a subsidiary of China´s Shanghai Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd., for importing and selling the Double Coin RT606 and the DynaTrac RS330 truck tires. Michelin claims those tires are unauthorized copies of Michelin´s patented XZE tread pattern.
Michelin is seeking unspecified monetary damages.
The company said the suit is part of its campaign to curb knockoffs of its tire designs.
Monrovia, Calif.-based CMA imports and distributes several brands, including Double Coin, Blue Star, Dynacargo and Warrior tires in North America. American Tire Distributors Inc. distributes the DynaTrac brand in North America.
CMA denied Michelin´s allegations and said it is investigating them.
Michelin also alleges CMA published Michelin copyrighted illustrations of two tire designs. Michelin said it created and published an original illustration in 1997 of its XLD 70-1 L3T OTR tire and claims CMA used it in advertisement materials for the Double Coin REM-5.
Michelin accused CMA of infringing on its copyright of a 1999 original illustration of its XHA OTR tire. The French-owned tire maker charged CMA used the illustration in its advertisements for the Double Coin REM-2 or the REM-2/REM-3 tires.
A Michelin spokeswoman said the company is pursuing copyright rather than patent infringement claims on the OTR tires because either the patents on the designs have expired or they weren´t able to be patented.
Michelin´s parent company in France, through its individual national subsidiaries, also is filing lawsuits in Spain, the Netherlands, France and Algeria against dealers who are selling the disputed Double Coin tires. In addition, the company has taken legal action against Kirkby Tyres Ltd., which distributes Double Coin truck tires in the United Kingdom, on accusations of patent infringement of Michelin´s XDY truck tire tread design.
Michelin said it warned more than 5,000 dealers in various countries in 2005 about the implications in marketing knockoffs from Asia.
"These look-alike products copy the tread patterns of Michelin truck tires, and while the two treads may look alike, the look-alikes may not deliver the same grip or longevity of performance as an authentic Michelin tire," the tire maker said.
Despite its alerts, Michelin said unauthorized copies of Michelin tread patterns can be found in the market-"notably under the Double Coin brand."