The plaintiff Technogym, one of the world leading manufacturers of fitness equipment, claimed protection of its design patent for treadmill called "Run ARTIS” against the defendant, Tianzhan company, for the reason that the defendant possessed the special equipment and molds for manufacturing the allegedly infringing product TZ-7000 treadmill, mass-produced, assembled and stored the TZ-7000 treadmill products in its factory, as well as sold and offered to sell a large number of the above-mentioned infringing products through Internet, hence requesting the court to issue injunction against the defendant and to order defendant compensate the plaintiff’s the actual losses of RMB 1 million and reasonable legal costs of RMB 200,000.
After trials by Jinan Intermediate Court of first instance and Shandong High Court of second instance, both courts held that the allegedly infringing treadmill products produced, sold and offered for sale by the defendant fall into the protection scope of the plaintiff’s design patent, thus supported the plaintiff’s requests.
1. Changes in pre-trial evidence preservation.
In this case, the judge adopted the means such as taking pictures of the production sites, production molds, semi-finished products, a large number of finished products and the loading site, and keeping records of the inventory and molds for evidence preservation, which allows the preserved party to continue to use the production molds, while effectively preserving the evidence.
2. No suspension of trial based on defendant’s invalidation petition
In earlier patent litigations, especially those concerning utility model patent and design patent infringement, usually when a defendant initiated invalidation action against the patent at dispute, the court would rule to suspend the trial until the invalidation petition is concluded. In this case, however, after full consideration of the evidence submitted by both parties in the litigation procedure, the collegial panel believed there is very low chance for the plaintiff’s design patent to be invalidated, and held that there was no need to suspend the trial, which greatly increased the efficiency of the trial.
3. Affirmation on the comparison between photos of the allegedly infringing products and views of the design patent
In the second instance, the defendant argued that the court of first instance compared the photos of the allegedly infringing product with the views of the design patent, omitting a large amount of design details, thus led to a wrong judgment. However, the court of second instance, in accordance with the second paragraph of Article 59 of the Patent Law, held that the practice of comparing the photos of the allegedly infringing products with the views of the patented design complies with the law.
4. Use of evidence in support of claims for damage compensation and reasonable legal costs.
In the first instance trial, the plaintiff requested the court to order defendant’s export data between 2012 and August 2016. The judge also noticed during the pre-trial evidence preservation that a large number of infringing products were stored in the defendant's warehouse. After hearing, the court held that the plaintiff’s request for compensation of 1 million yuan was reasonable as the defendant exported nearly 1,200 pieces of infringing products for the value of nearly 7 million yuan during 2015 and first half of 2016 alone. Therefore, the customs data and evidence preserved have played an important role in obtaining court support’s on the plaintiff's claim.