LOS ANGELES—A U.S. District Court has imposed $1.56 million in contempt sanctions against two Chinese tire makers for violating a 2014 judgment prohibiting the manufacture and sale of tires using a tread similar to that of the Toyo Open Country M/T.
The case involves the AMP M/T tire produced by Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co. Ltd. and Qingdao Doublestar Tire Industrial Co. Ltd., which Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. claimed sports a tread design that infringes on its "protected trade dress."
In a 32-page ruling, Judge Cormac Carney of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California imposed the contempt sanctions against the Chinese companies, stating that the "court must compensate Toyo for the injury it has suffered due to [the defendants'] violation of the final judgment."
The court directed Toyo to submit a request for attorneys' fees and costs as well.
While it is "pleased" by the court's ruling against Doublestar Dong Feng and Qingdao Doublestar, Toyo said it intends to continue its fraud case against Doublestar Dong Feng, where it is seeking $14.7 million in damages and attorneys' fees.
The contempt order pertains to violations of a exclusion and cease-and-desist orders issued by the International Trade Commission in August 2014 against eight U.S. importers/distributors of 11 individual tire brands and models that Toyo claimed were infringing on its patents for Toyo Open Country M/T and Nitto Trail Grappler M/T lines.
Among the models was the Mark Ma Dakar M/T, produced by the Doublestar companies and distributed by Tri-Ace Wheel.
In a separate suit filed in February 2015 against the same Chinese tire makers and CIA Wheel Group --- a City of Industry, Calif.-based wheel and tire distributor that maintains a Web site for the AMP tire brand --- Toyo claimed that the AMP M/T model used essentially the same tread pattern as the Mark Ma Dakar M/T and thus was violating its patent.
According to the judge's ruling, the Chinese tire makers argued that Toyo had not specified the AMP M/T in its original list and therefore the ITC's orders didn't apply. Toyo successfully "met its burden" to show that the Chinese companies had violated the courts injunction and thus were in contempt.
The document shows the Chinese makers shipped 44,772 AMP M/T-branded tires to the U.S. from the time of the ITC decision through year-end 2016.
"We are very pleased by yet another court victory against violators of our intellectual property rights," said Iori Suzuki, President of Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc.
"Toyo takes infringement of its intellectual property by other companies very seriously and will continue to vigorously protect the quality of our highly-reputable products and long-established brand."