Dehns’ Client Wins Landmark Patent Case in China Dehns has advised long-standing client Strix Limited (Strix) in a landmark intellectual property case brought in Beijing against two Chinese electric kettle control manufacturing companies for infringement of a patent. The cases were filed in Beijing in December 2008 after Strix found that the two manufacturing companies were producing and selling electric control devices containing Strix’s patented technology. The ruling, which was made in late December 2009, awarded Strix unprecedented damages for this type of case tried in this Court and demonstrates that foreign companies can successfully enforce their intellectual property rights through the Chinese legal system. Defendant companies Zhejiang Jiatai Electrical Appliance Manufacture Co. (Jiatai) and Leqing FaDa Electrical Appliance Co. Ltd (FaDa) were found to have infringed Strix’s patent in regard to control technology that automatically switches off electric kettles after the water reaches boiling point. The Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court awarded Strix a total of 9.1 million Chinese Yuan (~£800,000) in damages. Jiatai, a private Chinese enterprise producing kettle controls, was required to pay Strix a total of 7.1 million Yuan, with an additional award of 2 million Yuan made against FaDa, another kettle control manufacturing group. Strix, founded on the Isle of Man in 1982, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of safety control systems for small domestic appliances, producing thermostatic controls for two thirds of the world’s kettles. In 1997, their manufacturing headquarters relocated to Guangzhou in the Guangdong province where the company employs 700 people. Adrian Samuels, Partner at Dehns, was supported by Associate Laura Ramsay. Dehns has acted for Strix since its inception in 1982 and drafted the company’s original patent application for the thermostatic control unit. The team also acted as advisers to the Chinese law firm engaged for the litigation. Adrian Samuels commented on the Judgment: “This is a hugely significant ruling and its implications will be welcomed worldwide. There is a perception that enforcing intellectual property rights in China is a challenge for foreign companies. However, this case is testament to the fact that IP rights are gaining increasing importance in China and that both local and foreign companies alike can be protected by the Chinese judiciary. This decision on behalf of our client will give both local and foreign companies operating in China increasing faith in the Chinese IPR protection system and we’re delighted to have been involved in this landmark decision”.
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