Gree Electric, a patent powerhouse in China’s home appliance sector, has been trying to shake off its domestic audacious chaser Aux Group by accusing the latter’s dubious business ethics.
On September 2, the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) issued a decision regarding the request No. 51688 made by Gree Electric to invalidate a patent Aux Group retained. Gree Electric requested to invalidate claim 3 and the part of claim 10 citing the technical solution of claim 3, and maintain claim 1-2, 4-9, the part of claim 10 citing the technical solution of claim 1-2, and claim 11-13. The CNIPA’s decision has supported the partial invalidation of the patent as requested. The decision is available here.
In December 2018, Aux Group acquired the patent CN00811303.3 for an air-conditioning compressor from Toshiba Carrier Corporation, which was to expire in 2020. In January 2019, Aux Group filed a lawsuit against Gree Electric for its infringement on the patent in question, calling for 190 million yuan ($30 million) in damages. It’s noteworthy that during the protection period of this patent, its previous holder Toshiba Carrier Corporation never filed any infringement lawsuit over it.
In recent years, many patent infringement lawsuits have been filed against Aux Group by other home appliance manufacturers such as LG Corporation and Midea Group. In May 2020, Aux Group was ordered to pay Gree Electric 40 million yuan ($6.2 million) in a patent infringement lawsuit lasting 3 years.
Gree Electric interpreted the lawsuit filed by Aux Group in 2019 as a revengeful patent trolling act and rose up to it by resorting to the CNIPA administrative proceedings. It’s still too early to predict where the newly issued notification of partial invalidation will lead the lawsuit.