Michelin North America Inc. has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the U.S. and Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. has filed an industrial design infringement suit in Canada against Canada's Dynamic Tire Corp. pertaining to Chinese-made truck tires.
Dynamic denies any wrongdoing and is defending the suits.
In the U.S. case, filed Dec. 7 in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York, Michelin alleged that a Dynamic Tire Web site had a copied illustration of Michelin's XDE M/S truck tire that it labeled as Dynamic's Triangle TR689 tire. Michelin asserts that Dynamic is therefore telling customers that the Michelin tire is available from Dynamic.
``Particularly, individuals are likely to purchase and/or have purchased Triangle TR689 tires based on the copied illustration, thereby diverting business away from (Michelin) and resulting in a loss of sales to (Michelin),'' according to Michelin's suit filed with the court.
Michelin is seeking an injunction as well as damages and costs.
In a different action filed Dec. 7 in Federal Court of Canada, Michelin North America (Canada) alleged infringement of two Canadian industrial designs by Dynamic's distribution of Triangle TR696 and Triangle TR689 truck tires.
Michelin seeks an injunction to halt distribution of these tires along with an award of unspecified damages and costs.
The two suits follow a similar action Michelin filed against Dynamic last summer in federal court in Northern Alabama. In that litigation, Michelin alleged Dynamic infringed a patent on a Michelin truck tire design involving a different Chinese-made tire-an Aeolus-branded product.
Dynamic Tire, which is based in Brampton, Ontario, has denied the allegations in that case, is defending the suit and has sued Michelin for defamation in Canada as well as Tire Business for its reporting about the case.
Robert Kenney, a Falls Church, Va., attorney representing Dynamic Tire, said Jan. 6 in a written statement regarding the lawsuits Michelin has filed in the U.S. against Dynamic and its president, Robert Sherkin, that Dynamic Tire ``has not sold, manufactured or distributed any `counterfeit tires.''' He further said that as solely a distributor, neither the company nor Mr. Sherkin was involved in the design or manufacture of the tires.
Triangle tires are made by Triangle Group Co. Ltd. in Qingdao, China, according to the Web site www.triangle-tire.com.
Mr. Kenney said the Aeolus HN308 tire-which was the subject of the first Michelin design patent infringement lawsuit filed in Alabama-had already been in the market before Dynamic Tire was aware of it and purchased it.
``Dynamic Tire and Mr. Sherkin are vigorously defending the lawsuits instituted by Michelin and deny all allegations of wrongdoing contained within them,'' Mr. Kenney said. ``Dynamic Tire and Mr. Sherkin have confidence in the civil justice process and that their positions will be ultimately proven right in that process.''
For its part, Michelin said the lawsuits are part of its strategy to protect the company's intellectual property.