Yokohama closes book on Wanli S-1099 infringement

Nov. 29, 2005

Yokohama Tire Corp. has resolved its patent and trade dress infringement suit relative to Wanli S-1099 tires. (See "Court enjoins Zisser Tire from selling infringing Wanli tires per settlement," in the News Archives, Sept. 9, 2004.)

Yokohama's suit was against three parties: South China Tire Co., the manufacturer; Zisser Tire Corp., the exclusive United States distributor; and a local Los Angeles retailer. Yokohama says the Wanli S-1099 infringed upon Yokohama's trademarks and patents due to its similarity in appearance to Yokohama's AVS Sport tire.

During the litigation, the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Calif., entered a permanent injunction in favor of Yokohama and against the retailer, after the retailer admitted infringement of Yokohama's patent and trade dress. As a result of the injunction, the retailer was enjoined from selling the Wanli S-1099 tires and similar tires that that would utilize Yokohama's patents and trade dress.

The court also entered a permanent injunction against Zisser Tire. As part of an out-of-court settlement between the parties, Zisser agreed not to market and distribute the tire "unless Wanli were to subsequently prevail on the merits of the infringement action," according to a Zisser Tire spokesman. Zisser also agreed to pay a settlement sum to Yokohama.

On Nov. 22, 2005, Yokohama settled its claims against South China Tire, which manufactured the infringing tires. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

"We are very satisfied with the entry of the permanent injunctions by the court and with our settlement with South China, and we will continue to aggressively protect our patents and trademarks," says James MacMaster, executive vice president of Yokohama's business division.

"The appearance of the Wanli S-1099 tire in the U.S. caused confusion in the market, among dealers and consumers, which had a detrimental effect on Yokohama Tire. We have taken that tire completely off the market."

Yokohama Tire Corp. is the North American manufacturing and marketing arm of Tokyo, Japan-based Yokohama Rubber Co.