FREDERICTON, New Brunswick — A provincial court in Fredericton has ruled in favor of Michelin Group in a 2022 lawsuit against two dealers in Canada for selling a Chinese tire that Michelin claims violates intellectual property rights regarding the BFGoodrich Tires All-Terrain T/A KO2 tire.
The suit — filed in the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick — alleged that the All-Terrain T/A AK3 tire sold under the Wideway brand has a tread design "virtually identical" to the original BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO tire.
The suit was filed in April 2022 against Tire Boys & Auto Service Inc., a mobile tire-fitting business based in Edmonton, Alberta, and Atlantic Tire King Inc., a retail dealership with outlets in Moncton and Oromocto, New Brunswick,
The Wideway tire also exhibits design features protected by intellectual property rights for the All-Terrain T/A KO2 tire, which Michelin manufactures in the U.S. under its BFGoodrich brand.
DOT markings on the Wideway All-Terrain T/A AK3 tire indicate the product is manufactured in China. Shandong Wideway Tire of Qingdao, Shandong, promotes the Wideway brand on its website, but U.S. Department of Transportation records don't show any DOT tire plant code issued to any company using "Wideway" in its name.
Tire Boys and Atlantic Tire King failed to respond in the lawsuit or appear at a recent hearing, which prompted Michelin's motion for judgment.
The court's order:
- Prohibits the defendants from selling any Wideway tires;
- Prevents the defendants from infringing Michelin's T/A trademark;
- Charges each defendant with $50,000 (Canadian) in damages for violating Michelin intellectual property rights and $10,000 in costs for intentional disregard and $1,100 as compensation for disbursements.
"Michelin monitors the marketplace for infringements of our intellectual property on all of our products," Harold Phillips, global general manager for BFGoodrich Tires, said.
"Michelin will continue to pursue legal action to protect our products that are covered by our intellectual property (IP). The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tire and its legacy represent the achievement of many years of technical development and is one of the flagship products in our product portfolio.
Michelin said it acted previously in numerous other countries, alongside the North American filing, to protect its intellectual property rights from Wideway's alleged infringement, but it did not provide details as to which countries or when.
In 2019, Michelin North America Inc. filed suit against Houston-based Tri-Ace Wheel & Tire Corp. and its Black Bear U.S.A. affiliate,alleging they were infringing on the design patent for the BFGoodrich All-Terrain A/T KO2 tire.
The original BFG All-Terrain T/A KO tire — the predecessor for the current All-Terrain T/A KO2 product at the center of the litigation — was introduced in 1976. Every tire is stamped with "Baja Champion" on the sidewall, representing its class-winning status in the grueling SCORE Baja 1000.