Countering ever more complex intellectual property infringement

By Rose Xu, Chang Tsi & Partners; Tom Wang, Kohler
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Intellectual property infringement and protection in China are becoming more and more complex. On the one hand, infringers have significant professional legal knowledge, concealing their illegal infringement through such means as lawful application for patents and trademarks; and, on the other hand, rights holders are also required to use various means, such as negotiations, administrative means and judicial means, in tandem, to halt infringement and safeguard their lawful rights and interests. Below, by taking a case in which the second author was personally involved as an example, we wish to share some insights with readers.

徐瑞红 Rose Xu 铸成律师事务所 合伙人 Partner Chang Tsi & Partners
Rose Xu
Partner
Chang Tsi & Partners

The overall design of a smart toilet exhibited at a kitchen and bathroom exhibition in Shanghai by a certain sanitary ware company from Taizhou was identical to that of Kohler’s hi-tech patented product, the Numi toilet, without a licence from the latter, and it additionally used the trademarks with the words “The bold look of Coma” and “Yue Mi” (both with associated Chinese characters), similar to Kohler’s well-known trademark with the words “The bold look of Kohler” and the registered trademark with the words “nu mi” (and associated Chinese characters). The infringing products were widely sold by large distributors in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang, etc. Additionally, the Taizhou company applied for a design patent and trademark in respect of its product.

Complete victory for Kohler

NUMI Logo

numi-Eng Logo In response to the serious infringement by the Taizhou company, Kohler formulated and implemented a multi-pronged rights protection plan, crossing swords with the Taizhou company on a number of occasions. After completing its evidence gathering, Kohler formally sent a lawyer’s letter to the Taizhou company, and following communications, the Taizhou company agreed to stop using “The bold look of Coma” (with associated Chinese characters), but refused to halt its patent infringement.

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