The complaint states: “Defendants… have intentionally adopted the Toyomoto mark to take advantage of the tremendous reputation and goodwill of the famous Toyo marks, and continue to do so knowing of the irreparable harm that they have caused and will continue to cause Toyo, its marks, and the public.”
The court issued a preliminary injunction against Toyomoto on Nov. 12, stating: “The Toyomoto mark is confusingly similar to the Toyo marks, and the defendants are using the mark for the same goods covered by Toyo's trademark registrations. In addition, defendants are claiming that they are a Japanese company, (which is likely to exacerbate confusion with Japan-based Toyo), even though defendants are China-based companies.”
The court's ruling means Toyomoto is preliminarily enjoined from using the Toyomoto mark in commerce, including the sale, distribution, promotion and advertising of tires bearing the Toyomoto mark.
Toyo is seeking permanent injunctive relief to prohibit Toyomoto from continuing to infringe on Toyo Tires' intellectual property rights, together with other corrective relief, including destruction of infringing products and materials, and recovery for damages arising from Toyomoto's actions.
According to information posted on toyomoto.com, Toyomoto is a trademark belonging to Kabusikiki Kaisha Tokyo Nihoon Rubber, a Tokyo-based company founded in 1985 by Takahasi Takuo. The site attributes the name to Mōri Toyomoto, a 15th century warlord of the province of Aki.
Mr. Takuo later established Japan Toyomoto Tire Corp. and introduced the tire brand in 2011. The site also lists three subsidiaries: Toyomoto (Beijing) International Trading Co.; Toyomoto Tire (US) Inc.; and Toyomoto OTR Division.
Neither Toyo nor Toyomoto identifies the Chinese manufacturer of the Toyomoto brand, but Toyomoto on its website states it has its own tire manufacturing technology and claims to be supplying technology and know-how to an entity it identifies as Saudi Company for Tyre Manufacturing (SCTM), which Toyomoto claims is setting up a tire production unit in the Gulf States.