LOS ANGELES (June 6, 2008) — Chinese tire maker Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. will destroy some Westlake-brand tires and tire molds as part of the settlement in a patent infringement case, according to Yokohama Tire Corp.
Hangzhou also will pay Yokohama and its Japanese parent firm, Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd., an undisclosed amount of money to settle the lawsuit Yokohama brought against Hangzhou in 2006.
In the case it filed in Los Angeles federal court, Fullerton, Calif.-based Yokohama claimed the tread design on Hangzhou's Westlake H280 light truck tire infringed on the tread design patent Yokohama holds on its Geolandar A/T+II all-terrain light truck and sport-utility vehicle tires.
Yokohama sought triple damages plus the profits Hangzhou made from selling the Westlake H280 tires.
The company also sought an injunction against Hangzhou from making the tires and the destruction of all remaining tires, labels, advertising and promotional materials.
In the settlement—reached in April—Hangzhou agreed to pay Yokohama a cash sum, destroy the Westlake H280 molds, destroy all remaining inventories of the tires and immediately cease all shipments and sales of the tires, according to Yokohama.
“Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery,” said Jim McMaster, Yokohama executive vice president, Business Division, in a May 27 press release. “However, our success in this grievance against Hangzhou shows other tire manufacturers that, when it comes to stealing our industry-leading tire designs, we'll assertively enforce our patent and trademark rights.”
The settlement agreement is in effect and does not require further court approval, a Yokohama spokesman said. Spokespersons for Hangzhou could not immediately be located.
The original lawsuit also named Tireco Inc., Hangzhou's U.S. distributor, as a defendant.
The Yokohama release on the settlement did not refer to Tireco, and there was no immediate word from either Tireco or Yokohama as to what happened to Tireco's portion of the case.