Hidden Patent Infringer “Caught” Again

 Mr. Haoyu Zhou (Elliot) & Ms. Hui Liu

It has long been blamed that the Chinese patent enforcement is not strong enough to deter the infringer. In judicial practice, a number of patent owners who successfully win the patent infringement lawsuit are still not able to get damages paid, as the infringers could simply “disappear”. Through the years, the IP courts are always trying to improve patent enforceability. Here is a story of how the court is helping the patent owner to catch the “disappeared” infringer.

Royal Philips Electronics, the owner of a number of “three-headed shaver” Chinese design patents, found several Wenzhou companies selling three-headed shavers with substantially identical designs to its patents on a number of e-commerce platforms since 2016. Philips then sued them in Shanghai IP court. The court made a decision that all of these Wenzhou companies did infringe the patent, issued an injunction and granted damages.

However, after the decision came into force, none of the defendants actually carried out the obligations, and some of them even hid themselves somewhere and not contactable. Philips then filed a request to the court for compulsory enforcement.

In order to help the patentee, the court searched the relevant information and found that one of the infringers, a Wenzhou Electronics, is a sole proprietorship enterprise, and its legal representative, Yang, owns 100% of the

shareholding. In accordance with the relevant laws and regulations, the court decided to add Yang as the person subjected to patent enforcement for this case. The court dispatched someone to Wenzhou and froze Yang’s most properties such as Porsche car, real estate and bank account.

Under pressure of cash flow and life stress, Yang voluntarily contacted the court and paid off the debt he owned to Philips.