The 1 billion yuan worth feud is escalating.
On Thursday, May 6, China’s National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issued a notice in General Protecht v. Gongniu Group in which the agency had accepted the petition filed by General Protecht for review of a decision in a patent infringement case against Gongniu Group in 2018.
General Protecht and Gongniu Group are two top Chinese civil electrical products manufacturers. The Gongniu brand name has almost become the byword for quality with China’s power strip consumers. The Zhejiang-based company was founded in 1995 and taken public in February 2020. General Protecht, a Jiangsu-based one, has been maintaining its strong overseas presence for about 20 years and is the first Chinese company winning a patent infringement case filed by four American companies on their home turf.
General Protecht holds an invention patent for the support slide-type safety door with the patent number being ZL201010297882.4 and a utility model patent for the safety protector of mains socket with the patent number being ZL201020681902.3.
In December 2018, they filed the lawsuit against Gongniu Group in the Intermediate People's Court of Nanjing Municipality, Jiangsu Province for its infringing the two patents in the civil electrical products manufactured by the latter and sought about 1 billion RMB ($156 million) in compensation. The record-breaking figure instantly made headlines.
The respondent/defendant Gongniu Group initiated a petition to challenge the validity of the patents with the Patent Reexamination and Invalidation Department of the CNIPA. Based on the evidence provided by Gongniu Group, the CNIPA held that compared with the prior art, General Protecht’s patented inventions “don’t have prominent substantive features nor represent a notable progress” and “don’t involve inventive steps”. The Intermediate People's Court of Nanjing Municipality, Jiangsu Province ruled in March 2020 that the defendant’s alleged patent infringement was not established in light of the CNIPA’s post-grant amendment. General Protecht challenged the CNIPA’s administrative ruling of patent invalidity and filed an administrative litigation with the Beijing Intellectual Property Court in December 2020.
The latest notice issued by the CNIPA indicates that General Protecht has not decided to be reconciled with its competitor or itself.
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