Chinese Company Sues American Retailers For Selling 'Knockoffs'

from the yes,-read-that-again dept

Jake points us to a story that (as Jake notes) makes you read the headline twice to make sure you got it right: Chinese Company Sues in U.S. to Block "Knockoff". It's not really "knockoffs" that they're suing over. It's a patent infringement claim from Changzhou Asian Endergonic Electronic Technology Co., which is upset that Best Buy, Wal-Mart and some other retailers are selling a competitors' dashboard mount that it claims is covered by its own patent.

Now, there are a bunch of points worth discussing here. First, apparently this is the first such case of a Chinese company (based in China) suing in the US over a patent infringement claim (a claim that really surprises me). Considering the long history of China copying (blatantly) American products and then reselling them, it's really quite fascinating to see a Chinese company now complain about the "reverse." Of course, as we've been highlighting recently, there's been a big push in China to build up a belief in patents. It seems this firm has already learned the basics of the American patent system: it's suing in Texas, of course!

The other odd thing about this case is filing the lawsuit against the retailers. The company is also suing the manufacturer (another Chinese company) which makes sense, but I've never understood why going after the retailer makes sense. Best Buy, Wal-Mart and others shouldn't need to investigate every product they sell to determine whether it violates someone else's patents. Let that be handled between vendors. Dragging the retailers into the lawsuit is just a waste of resources.

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  1. identicon
    Bloodyscot, 19 Jul 2009 @ 7:30am

    The real problem is the patent laws or maybe the lawyers

    Patent laws are really hard to fully understand with functional and non-functional designs. Then there is the problem of similar or overlapping patents being issued that should not have been. The Eastern District of Texas is the most popular jurisdiction for patent litigation, I'm guessing thats because its easier to win there and their lawyers know this. With patents getting longer and rules being lower for issuing patents this will become big money for lawyers in years to come. Since Chinese companies are on both side of this, there maybe a bigger reason to include the US retail companies in this.

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