Li Yang of CCTV.com reports about several patent infringement disputes between US-based Leviton against Zhejiang Province-based General Protecht Group's US subsidiary General Protecht Group Inc. The lawsuits were filed April 2004 and only June 10, 2007 a US court came up with a 28 page-ruling (according to IPR.Gov.Cn) in favour of the Chinese company, "accepting the claim that its products (No. 6246558 patent right on ground fault circuit interrupters IP Dragon) are beyond the scope of Leviton's patents."
After being a defendant in the case in the US, General Protecht Group sued Leviton in 2006 before the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court, which made a "decision of Property Preservation and Evidence Preservation in a patent infringement case between two electric companies. As a result, defendant Leviton Electric (Dongguan) Co Ltd has been prohibited from selling 50,000 products." Read more on the site of IPR.Gov.Cn here.
Li wrote that Tim Tingkang Xia, partner of Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP intellectual property group and a registered patent attorney said:“The win is certainly a triumph for Chinese businesses. In international IPR disputes, Chinese companies should learn to use the law to protect themselves.” Read more here.
According to China's Ministry of Commerce the ruling was a so called Markman Order, or a claim construction report, where the judge determines what the claims mean as a matter of law, read more at the end of this article. General Protecht spent 200,000 US dollars on patent litigation, according to Li, so it is interesting to know whether it demanded and/or received damages.
Another Sino-American patent infringement lawsuit in the US is still pending. Read 'Shenzhen Netac Sues Texas PTY Technologies for Patent Infringement' here. I hope to get more information about this case soon.
It is great that these Chinese companies realise the value of protecting and enforcing their patents overseas. This might be a preview of things to come and can only be advantageous for the promotion of a culture of respect for IP within China, in a not too distant future.