Michelin North America has filed a suit against Tri-Ace Wheel & Tire Corporation of Houston, including its Black Bear USA affiliate, for importing and selling a Chinese counterfeit tyre that violates patent protections for the BFGoodrich Tires All-Terrain T/A KO2.
Michelin filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.
In its complaint, Michelin alleges that the Black Bear All-Terrain II tyre from Tri-Ace includes a virtually identical tread design with substantially the same features as those protected by patents for the All-Terrain T/A KO2, which Michelin North America manufactures in the United States under its wholly owned BFGoodrich Tires brand. DOT markings on the Black Bear All-Terrain II tyre indicate the product is manufactured in China.
The BFGoodrich Tires All-Terrain T/A KO tyre, the predecessor for the current KO2 product at the centre of the Tri-Ace litigation, created and defined the all-terrain category when it was introduced in 1976. Every KO2 is stamped with “Baja Champion” on the sidewall, representing its class-winning status in the grueling Score Baja 1000.
Harold Phillips, global general manager for BFGoodrich Tires brand, a wholly owned Michelin entity based in the United States commented: “Today’s KO2 is unmatched for driver loyalty, cultural off-road relevance and expert recommendations. The product and its legacy represent the achievement of many years of technical development in the Michelin organisation.
“Many competitors have tried and failed to match its capabilities. Michelin will aggressively defend KO2 against Chinese impostors, and any illegal use of our intellectual property.”