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issue: February 2003 APPLIANCE Magazine

China Report
Philips Wins Patent Infringement Case On Appeal


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This report is filed by Clint Stevens, China Correspondent, APPLIANCE magazine.

As part of China's WTO agreements, promises were made to increase efforts to stop intellectual property rights (IPR) abuses that have run rampant over the years.

Chinese manufacturers are reportedly notorious for ignoring patents and copying successful products. China joined the WTO in December last year and quickly moved to strengthen local IPR laws. While China still has a long way to go, Philips' victory in this legal battle is seen as a sign that China is at least trying to make good on that promise. An appeal court in China has sided with Dutch electronics firm Philips Electronics in its suit to cancel the patent of a Chinese-designed electric razor. The court's decision strikes a blow against piracy and counterfeiting, which remains rampant in China despite the introduction of tougher trademark, patent, and copyright laws.

The ruling overturns a previous decision by China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) that initially dismissed Philips' challenge to the patent of the locally designed razor. Philips had asked SIPO to declare null and void the patent of the Chinese-designed shaver on the grounds that it was similar to its patented design. A SIPO review committee previously found that the two electric razors were clearly different in design and shape and wouldn't confuse consumers.

On appeal, Beijing First Intermediate People's Court ruled that the design of the rival Chinese electric shaver did infringe Philips' patent. The overturn of the SIPO decision shows that Chinese courts are trying to tackle the tough problem of protecting intellectual property rights. This is one small step in a long uphill battle.

 

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