PTC Heater-related Utility Model Patent Infringement
Utility model patent
–Infringement Damages Determination
The Supreme People's Court reasonably applies the evidence determination rule and economic analysis, and determines the amount of infringement damages by combining the amount of the profits from infringement with the loss determination principle of statutory damages. For evidences that reflect the sales amount of the alleged infringing products, the infringement profits can be calculated by using the total sales amount, profit rate and contribution of the alleged infringing product. If the existing evidences cannot reflect the sales amount, the infringement damages can be determined in accordance with statutory damages, which realizes that the infringement damages is coordinate and consistent with the market value of the IP right.
First instance: (2013) NingZhiMinChuZi No. 510
Second instance: (2016) SuMinZhong No. 105
Retrial: (2018) ZuiGaoFaMinZai No. 111
Retrial claimants(plaintiffs in first instance trial and appellants in second instance): Wuxi Guowei Ceramic Electrical Appliances Co., Ltd. (Guowei); Jiang Guoping
Respondents (defendants in first instance and appellants in second instance): Changshu Linzhi Electrical Heating Development Co., Ltd. (Linzhi); and Suning.com Co., Ltd. (Suning)
Jiang Guoping is the patentee of the utility model patent named "an aluminum heat pipe for PTC heaters and a PTC heater" ("Patent"). Guowei is the company that was exclusively licensed to exploit the Patent. Guowei and Jiang Guoping brought an action, alleging that Linzhi had manufactured and sold PTC heaters for air-conditioners that infringed upon the above Patent, and requested the court to order Linzhi to cease and desist from the infringement and compensate Guowei and Jiang Guoping 15 million Yuan in total for the economic loss and other reasonable costs. During the first instance trial, the Intermediate People's Court of Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province held that the alleged infringing product fell into the scope of protection specified in Claim 2 of the Patent. The court decided that Linzhi et al should cease and desist from the infringement and compensate Guowei and Jiang Guoping 1 million Yuan in total. Disagreeing with the decision, Guowei, Jiang Guoping and Linzhi respectively filed an appeal. During the second instance trial, the High People's Court of Jiangsu Province held that the alleged infringing product lacked implicit technical feature of Claim 2 of the Patent, therefore, it did not fall into the scope of protection in Claim 2 of the Patent. The court reversed the first instance judgment and dismissed the claims of the plaintiffs. Guowei and Jiang Guoping filed a retrial application with the Supreme People's Court. During the retrial, the court held that the explanation on the scope of protection in Claim 2 of the Patent, which was given in the second instance judgment, was inappropriate. The alleged infringing product did fall into the scope of protection in Claim 2 of the Patent. It then reversed the second-instance judgment and changed the amount of the economic loss to over 9.37 million Yuan.
During the retrial, the Supreme People's Court develops a new approach to the finding of infringement damages. In the case, the Supreme People's Court reasonably used the evidence determination rule and the economic analysis, and in particular, took into full account of the contribution of the patent to the infringement profit. It finally decided to amend the previous judgment and ordered the defendants to pay nearly 9.5 million Yuan for the economic loss and other reasonable cost incurred by the plaintiffs.
(Translated by Ren Qingtao)