The rulings represent another key breakthrough in China’s continued crackdown on IP infringement.
Spin Master has won a major victory in a long-running patent dispute against one of the most prominent toy producers in China, resulting in the largest damages ever awarded to a foreign patent owner.
In a first instance judgement, the Suzhou Intermediate Peoples’ Court found the defendant Guangzhou Lingdong Creative Culture Technology had infringed Spin Master’s patents covering its globally popular Bakugan children’s toy line.
In a rare outcome, the Court awarded Spin Master damages of £1.8m – the largest amount ever for a foreign plaintiff according to public data for patent infringement cases in China.
Spin Master claimed that Lindong’s ‘Eonster Hunter’ products infringed several aspects of Spin Master’s Bakugan patent, including its rollable shape, interior structure and magnetic properties.
The verdict is Spin Master’s second major IP victory in China in recent months. In November 2019, the Shenzhen Longgang District People’s Court ruled in favour of Spin Master in a milestone criminal prosecution for trade mark infringement where defendants Shenzhen Shen Peng Hui Technologies and Shenzhen Akali Network Technologies were convicted of selling counterfeit versions of Spin Master’s Hatchimals products on Alibaba and other eCommerce platforms.
Notably, the ruling came after Chinese prosecutors had declined to file formal charges against the infringers, forcing Spin Master to bring the first successful private criminal prosecution in Chinese IP history. Three individuals were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and the companies were fined. Spin Master was advised throughout both cases by Chinese law firm Lusheng, part of the Rouse network.
Chris Harrs, executive vice-president at Spin Master, commented: “We are very pleased with the outcome and are thankful to Lusheng and Rouse for their guidance throughout both litigations. Spin Master will continue to steadfastly protect and enforce its intellectual property rights in all jurisdictions globally.”
Over the past decade China has made significant strides in developing and enforcing a robust IP rights regime. The rulings in favour of Spin Master signals China’s determination to provide a reliable IP legal framework in which foreign brands can operate with confidence.