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ITC backs Toyo design patent claims

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CYPRESS, Calif. (July 29, 2014) — The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued limited exclusion orders and cease-and-desist orders against eight U.S. importers/distributors of tires that Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. claims are infringing on Toyo patents.

The ITC’s ruling prohibits the importation and sale of any infringing tires by these eight respondents, Toyo said, each of which previously was found to be in default and in violation of the law.

Toyo, which markets and sells tires under the Toyo and Nitto brands, has over the years developed and introduced passenger and light truck tires, many of which are protected by design patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to the tire maker.

Toyo said it originally had filed complaints before the ITC in 2013 against 23 manufacturers, exporters, importers, distributors and dealers located in China, Thailand and the U.S.

Of the 23 respondents, 15 earlier had agreed to settle the complaint.

The companies identified in the ITC's ruling are:

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

As part of the settlements, the 15 respondents that settled earlier agreed to cease and desist from importing and selling the infringing products and to promptly dispose of any remaining inventory. Toyo said several of the manufacturers agreed to destroy molds used to produce the specific products named in the ITC action and some paid undisclosed cash sums to Toyo.

All of the settling respondents also agreed to not manufacture, market or distribute other tires that Toyo said it believes infringes on its intellectual property rights but which were not a part of the ITC action.

In addition to the ITC action, Toyo said it also filed several companion federal district court cases, most of which have now been resolved.

“Toyo makes considerable investments in developing unique and proprietary tire designs. The designs are well-recognized and well-received in the marketplace, and represent the quality and aesthetic appeal that our customers have come to expect and recognize from our Toyo Tires and Nitto brands.” said Iori Suzuki, Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas’ senior vice president and general counsel.

“Toyo appreciates the ITC’s recognition of our design patents and their enforcement of our intellectual property rights against infringers. We will continue to vigorously defend our patents against infringement.”

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