Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. filed suit Nov. 13 against Distribution Nortop Inc. and Rechapage Nortop Inc., alleging design patent infringement of several Michelin-brand precure tread designs for retreaded tires.
Distribution Nortop of Saint-Laurent, Quebec, is a distributor of retreading equipment and supplies, and Rechapage Nortop is a retreading shop in Richmond, Quebec.
In the lawsuit, filed in the Federal Court of Canada in Montreal, Michelin claims the infringement involves its XDY-3, XZY-2, XDS and XDN-2 tread designs registered under the Canadian Industrial Design Act.
The company alleges that ``look alike'' tread patterns are being distributed in Canada for retreading.
Alan Chaput, owner of Distribution Nortop, said he plans to go to court to defend his company, which imports and distributes treads, retreading equipment and chamber controls to retreaders in eastern Canada. The company has been in business for four years.
Mr. Chaput questioned why Rechapage Nortop, an independent retreader and a Distribution Nortop customer, was named in the lawsuit, other than it uses the Nortop name.
A Michelin spokesperson said the company named Rechapage Nortop in the lawsuit because its research found both defendants listed their corporate records and registration at the same address, both listed their business as ``tires'' and so Michelin assumes both companies are ``strongly linked.''
In the suit, Michelin is demanding that the defendants cease importing, distributing and selling the treads that allegedly infringe on Michelin patents. Michelin seeks undisclosed damages.
The registered designs are characterized by the shape, ornamentations, configuration and pattern of a tire and tire tread, according to the suit. Michelin alleges the defendants' products ``reproduce the plaintiff's registered designs, or designs not differing substantially from the plaintiff's registered designs.''
Among the tire designs in dispute are tires/treads bearing the marking Nortop-MNW 230, MoreFlex-MDY3 230 and MoreFlex-MZY 225, according to the lawsuit.