Man bites dog. Best Buy and Wal-Mart are among a dozen companies sued over dashboard mounts for navigation devices in a rare case of a Chinese company seeking to enforce patent rights in a US court.
Changzhou Asian Endergonic Electronic Technology claims the retailers are infringing its patent on a design for the dashboard mounts (shown here) by selling products made by a competitor. It wants cash refunded and a court order to prevent further use of the design. The patent was issued in March.
The complaint, filed July 2 in the US District Court in Texarkana, Texas, reflects the rising use of the US patent system by Chinese companies. US patent applications by residents of Mainland China, which excludes Hong Kong and Macau, surged 12-fold between the fiscal years 2000 and 2008, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Closely held Changzhou Asian aims to build a market in the US and filed the complaint to deal with "the typical Chinese knockoff," said Chad Nydegger, a lawyer for the company. It also is suing the manufacturer in China, accusing it of infringing two Chinese patents.
This may be the first time a Chinese company has sued in the US over a patent obtained by a Chinese resident. Lenovo Group has sued companies over patents it acquired when it bought International Business Machine Corp.’s PC division in 2005.
Nydegger, of Workman Nydegger in Salt Lake City, said Changzhou Asian, which makes Sianbag GPS mounts, lost a bidding war to a company that makes the Nav-Mat mounts sold by the retailers. He said his client is willing to negotiate with the stores.
Bloomberg reported the Changzhou Asian patent, with two Chinese residents listed as inventors, is for a unique, non-functional design and so has a shorter term of protection than a patent on an invention.