LONDON—Safe-Run and VMI have issued very different interpretations of a recent court decision in the long-running patent infringement dispute between the two tire machinery makers.
In its statement, Safe-Run said the High People's Court of Jiangsu Province had issued second instance judgments in the case between Safe-Run Intelligent Equipment Co. Ltd and VMI Group.
In these rulings, it said, none of Safe-Run's products and technologies involved fell within the scope of patent protection claimed by VMI.
First-instance judgment of the above cases "was upheld and VMI's appeals were rejected in accordance with the law," the Chinese supplier added.
VMI, it noted, had filed a patent-infringement lawsuit, claiming the belt drum products on Safe-Run's SRS-H tire building machine (TBM) and the product appearance fell within the scope of protection of its patents.
In response, Safe-Run filed a patent non-infringement declaration action with regard to the Dutch supplier's claims.
"In the first instance of the above series of cases, the Suzhou Intermediate People's Court supported all of Safe-Run patent non-infringement claims," the Chinese manufacturer said.
VMI, continued Safe-Run, appealed to the Jiangsu High People's Court, which eventually found that "the belt drum products and the appearance of the SRS-H tire building machine used by Safe-Run did not contain the technical and design features of the patents in question."
In addition to the above cases, the Chinese company said the VMI patent in question covering a "tire building drum provided with a turn-up device" in a separate case had expired.
"The building drum components involved in the case were purchased from a third party, and the number of SRS-H tire building machines using the components is very small and this certain type of SRS-H machine involved in the case has long been stopped from production," Safe-Run said.
The company also said the building drums used on its current and follow-on TBMs "are all independently developed by Safe-Run, and the current technical solutions are different from the products being sued in the case.
"Moreover, Safe-Run's SRS-H tire building machines neither use the automatic bead grabbing technology, nor include any automatic bead grabbing device on the ones sold, and therefore will under no circumstances infringe VMI's relevant patents."
(Read Safe-Run's statement in full.)
In its statement, VMI said the Jiangsu High People's Court recently issued final decisions in a series of patent infringement cases filed by VMI Holland BV against Safe-Run Intelligent Equipment Co. Ltd and one patent declaratory judgment case filed by Safe-Run.
Safe-Run, said the Dutch group, "were found infringing on VMI's two key patents relating to tire building machines and were ordered by court to immediately stop infringements and pay VMI damages totaling RMB2.46 million (around $380,000).
According to VMI, the Chinese courts rejected Safe-Run's arguments that it should not be liable for infringement of the drum patent because it was purchased from a third party.
"Although the patent has expired, Safe-Run and its clients' manufacturing, using, or selling of the infringing products before the expiry of the patent still constitutes infringements, and is subject to damage claims," VMI said.
For the patent relating to auto-gripper, VMI said any manufacture, use, or sale of infringing products is subject to both injunction and damages, "and should immediately be removed by Safe-Run and its customers from use or production."
(Read VMI's statement in full.)