Joseph Joseph has won a landmark victory in China over a group of companies that not only produced copies of Joseph Joseph’s Index chopping board but claimed to own the design and brand name.
The two-year court case involved Ningbo John and its subsidiaries Ningbo Jiangbei Golden Mate Imp & Exp Co, Ningbo Jiangbei Infull International Trading Co, Ningbo Jiangbei Dollar General International Industrial Co and Ningbo Evertop Industrial Co.
Ningbo John unlawfully patented the Index board in China three years ago. The deceit was then used to trick buyers, and as a result the company was able to export the product around the world, helping to take its turnover to US$40m.
Now, the Chinese court has found in Joseph Joseph’s favour on the Index’s key design features, and the patent owned by Ningbo John has been revoked.
Joseph Joseph managing director Richard Joseph told HousewaresLive.net that this was an unprecedented victory in China for the company.
“It was such a blatant rip-off of our brand name and trademark that this was a significant win,” he said. “We’ve taken many Chinese companies to task over product infringement but this was the first time they’d registered our design and brand name.
“When we challenged them on it they said that they were going to sue us because the products were their design! They claimed to customers that they owned the design registration and brand name and therefore could sell the copies, which was just a blatant lie.”
He said that some of the copies had even found their way into the UK market. “And any infringing product in the UK we tackle head on. We’re very quick to take action when we do find copied product.”
And as far as Ningbo John is concerned: “We’re now reviewing our next step. The most important thing was to get the ownership of the registration back. We’re now talking about compensation.”
Joseph said that there was still “a long list of infringers” of Joseph Joseph products waiting to be challenged.
“We’ve employed an in-house intellectual property lawyer because it’s become such an important issue for us,” he said. “All [the copiers] do is trawl our website for new ideas and in six months come up with identical copies. It can be a real threat to your business and the people you employ.
“We’re totally committed to fighting copies head on wherever they appear and determined to win however long that takes. It goes to show the importance of fighting to the bitter end: if you really care about your brand name and design you should fight until you win.”