Eight US Importers and Distributors Held By ITC for Toyo Patent Infringements

Eight US importers and distributors of tires have been issued limited exclusion orders and cease-and-desist orders by the US International Trade Commission (ITC). Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. claims that the eight parties involved are infringing on Toyo patents. Toyo’s patent lawyers said the company had originally filed complaints in 2013 against as many as 23 manufacturers, importers, export companies, distributors, and dealers in the US, and in China and Thailand. Of those, 15 had earlier agreed to a settlement of the complaint.

A myriad of lawsuits

As part of the settlement, the 15 respondents agreed to cease and desist from importing and selling products related to the patent infringement and to dispose of any remaining inventory. They also agreed to destroy molds related to production of the specific products. Toyo also received an undisclosed sum as part of the out of court settlement. The 15 respondents also agreed to refrain from the manufacture and distribution of tires that Toyo believes infringes its intellectual property rights which were not a part of the ITC action. While Toyo’s patent lawyers ahead with ITC lawsuits, the company also filed several companion federal district court cases. Many of these cases have been resolved.

The current ruling prohibits the eight respondents from importing or selling any tires related to the patent infringement. According to Toyo’s patent attorneys, all the eight respondents defaulted and were guilty of violation of the patent law. The company has developed several passenger and light truck tires which are protected by patents issued by the US Patent and Trademark Office. It currently markets and sells Toyo and Nitto brands of tires.

All over America

The ruling covers eight companies that include Vittore Wheel & Tire of Asheboro; WTD Inc. of Cerritos, Calif.; Lexani Tires Worldwide Inc. of Irwindale, Calif.; Simple Tire of Cookeville, Tenn.; Turbo Wholesale Tires Inc. of Irwindale; Tire & Wheel Master Inc. of Stockton, Calif.; WestKY Customs L.L.C. of Benton, Ky.; and RTM Wheel & Tire of Asheboro, N.C.

Toyo alleges that as many as 11 individual tire brands and models have violated the company’s patents. This includes and is not limited to Durun Terrain Grabber M/T; Thunderer M/T R405; Mark Ma Dakar M/T; Concours A/T; and Tri-Ace Dub, to name a few. These products are said to infringe patents used in the design and manufacture of Toyo’s Open country A/T and Proxes 4, and Nitto Trail Grappler M/T lines.

Chinese tire makers named by Toyo in the patent infringement include Guangzhou South China Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd.; South China Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd.; Shandong Linglong Tyre Co. Ltd.; Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co. Ltd.; and Thai tire manufacturer Svizz-One Corp. Ltd., among others.

American Omni Trading Co.; Wheel Warehouse Inc.; MHT Luxury Alloys; Tirecrawler.com, Unicorn Tire Corp.; and Dunlap & Kyle/Gateway Tire & Service are the U.S. based tire distributors alleged to have infringed on Toyo’s intellectual property rights. Hong Kong Tire-Ace Tire Co. Ltd. of China is the overseas distributor that has been identified as well.

According to Toyo’s senior vice president and general counsel, Iori Suzuki, the company has made significant investments in the development of unique and proprietary tire designs that are well received in the marketplace. He claims the Toyo and Nitto brands to be synonymous with quality and aesthetic appeal that customers expect. Suzuki said the company appreciates ITC’s recognition of their design patent and remains committed to defending any patent infringements with the help of their patent attorneys.

Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. is protecting itself.

Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. is protecting itself.

Colorado company blames Apple for patent infringement

While Samsung and Apple have grabbed the limelight for patent infringements, Apple has to contend with another adversary. TacBeam, a Colorado based company, has sued the iPhone maker over use of location based services ion iOS and OS X. However, based on evidence this may be a case of patent trolling where TracBeam exists solely to buy patents and target infringing companies.

Everyone, accept some attorneys, says we have seen enough of that.