Toyo, Sentury reach agreement in intellectual property case
CYPRESS, Calif. (Feb. 20, 2015) — Sentury Tire Americas has agreed never again to produce the Landsail Trailblazer CLV6 tire that Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc. claimed was in violation of Toyo's design patents, or any tire similar to that design, Toyo said recently.
According to Toyo, Sentury also has withdrawn the antitrust, business tort and patent lawsuits it filed against Toyo in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Southern Division, Toyo announced Feb. 19.
Sentury's suit was dismissed with prejudice, meaning that Sentury is barred from filing any future actions based on the same claims.
Miami-based Sentury Tire Americas, a subsidiary of China's Qingdao Sentury Co. Ltd., did not comment on Toyo's announcement.
At issue was Toyo's U.S. Design Patent No. 675,150. Toyo filed a complaint before the International Trade Commission (ITC) in 2013, claiming that 23 tire manufacturers, exporters, importers, distributors and dealers were manufacturing, selling or distributing tires that infringed on the “150” design, as court documents referred to the patent number.
Fifteen of the defendants settled with Toyo, and the ITC issued limited exclusion orders and cease-and-desist orders against the remaining eight in July 2014. Although Sentury was not among the original defendants, the ITC listed the CLV6 among the tires to be excluded from U.S. distribution.
Sentury filed suit against Toyo in September 2014. “It is not uncommon to settle an ITC proceeding with settlement agreements that exclude the importation of allegedly infringing products,” Sentury wrote in its complaint. “However, such agreements can only lawful where they are generally limited to respondents in the ITC proceeding.”
Toyo filed a motion in November 2014 to dismiss Sentury's antitrust claims. Sentury subsequently revised its complaint, dropping the antitrust claims and asking the court to consider only two claims of tortious interference and one of violating California's Business & Professions Code.
Toyo filed for dismissal of the last three claims Jan. 30. In any ITC petition for relief, Toyo said, it is the ITC itself that decides the merits of the case and initiates any remedy. This immunized Toyo from Sentury's claim that the action was a sham, the tire maker said.
Also, the exclusion of the CLV6 was part of Toyo's settlement agreement with the tire's primary distributor, American Omni Trading Co., Toyo said. Nothing in the Omni agreement prevented Omni from doing business with Sentury or selling any other Sentury tire, according to Toyo.
“We remain committed to vigorously protecting our intellectual property, our investments in research and development and our marketing efforts against those who would attempt to appropriate them,” said Iori Suzuki, Toyo senior vice president and general counsel.
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