16 November 2006

The great Chinese takeaway

AS THE EU and the US increase pressure on the Chinese to better enforce laws protecting foreign trademarks and copyrights, it has been revealed that the problem of counterfeit products came to a head at last month1s IKK exhibition in Nuremberg where a number of Chinese exhibitors were issued with injunctions.
At the forefront of legal action was refrigerant manufacturer Honeywell which has recently stepped up its campaign to prevent infringement of its intellectual property portfolio.

Honeywell holds the patent for the HFC refrigerant R410A (as well as R404A) and identified several exhibitors at IKK 2006, offering for sale unlicensed R410A for air conditioning applications.

Honeywell obtained a preliminary injunction from the German courts, stopping three Chinese companies from promoting and selling the infringing R410A at the show. Court bailiffs removed product and promotional material from the stands and the infringing companies were forced to sign agreements not to sell or promote the product in the future.

Apart from infringing its patents, Honeywell is also concerned that some imported Chinese material might be hazardous, both to humans and the environment. Tests carried out by Honeywell in the past have revealed that some cylinders purporting to be HFCs have contained a 'cocktail' of gases including ozone depleting CFCs and flammable substances.

Emerson also had to take similar action for infringement of copyright on one of its Alco valves. Another Chinese exhibitor was apparently displaying copies of Alco valves with promotional literature actually carrying the Alco 'star' logo with 'Alco' written in Chinese script.

Danfoss also found a Chinese company exhibiting Danfoss copy products but, according to a spokesman from the Danish company, they did not become aware of the fact until the last day of the show, when it was too late to serve them with an injunction.

The Danfoss spokesman insisted that the Chinese exhibitor was fully aware of what it was doing as the offending products were enclosed in a glass display case, so hiding the Danfoss name. Literature obtained by the company directly mentioned Danfoss and used Danfoss code numbers. Danfoss is now taking legal steps to stop the company.

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