A Chinese appeals court has ruled in favor of European extruder maker Battenfeld-Cincinnati Austria GmbH in its long-running product piracy case against Chinese equipment maker Donghua Machinery Ltd., Battenfeld said in a March 17 news release.
The latest ruling, from the Guangdong Higher People's Court, upholds a lower court ruling in Battenfeld's favor and may put an end to a seven-year legal battle between the companies, according to Vienna-based Battenfeld.
The case began in 2003 when Battenfeld sued in Chinese courts, accusing Dongguan-based Donghua of illegally using confidential documents to copy its PO 450 pipe extrusion system, which the company made at its subsidiary in Foshan, China.
In 2007, a court in Dongguan ruled in favor of Battenfeld, but Donghua, which is part of Hong Kong-based plastics firm Cosmos Machinery Ltd., appealed the judgment.
The latest ruling, handed down in late 2010, confirms the previous decision, Battenfeld said.
The [Guangdong Higher People's] Court ruled that Donghua Machinery had infringed the intellectual property rights of Battenfeld-Cincinnati, turned down Donghua's appeal and confirmed the 2007 ruling by [the] Dongguan court, Battenfeld said.
Donghua will have to pay a fine of 500,000 yuan ($76,000), Battenfeld said.
It's not immediately clear if Donghua could appeal the latest ruling. Battenfeld said it had finally won its case and a spokesman said he believed the case was over.
Donghua did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In the past, the company has argued that the pipe extrusion technology at issue was commonly applied by many companies in China, and had accused its European rival of misstating the facts of the case.
Battenfeld said that it presented conclusive evidence to the higher court that its technology was unique and could not have been broken down and re-manufactured by another company using reverse-engineering techniques.
Donghua Machinery could not offer proof that it had independently developed the technology in question, Battenfeld said.
This case shows that it is worth fighting for one's rights, especially concerning intellectual property that has been developed for years with high effort, said Battenfeld-Cincinnati CEO Jurgen Arnold, in the statement.
A Battenfeld spokesman said the ruling was handed down around the time of the K show, held in late October in Dusseldorf, Germany, but the company delayed announcing it because it did not want news of the Chinese court case to distract from its other announcements at that show.
The PO 450 system includes a single-screw extruder, extrusion die and downstream equipment.