(Yicai Global) March 16 -- A court in China has ordered a Chinese firm that handles Philips' air conditioner business in the country to pay Gree Electric Appliance CNY2.5 million (USD360,000) in compensation for infringing two of the Chinese white goods giant’s patents.
Nanjing Zhipu Supply Chain Management should immediately stop making five Philips-branded aircon products that infringed Gree's invention patent rights and pay CNY2 million and CNY500,000 (USD72,400) within 10 days, the Xi'an Intermediate People's Court in Shaanxi province ruled in two lawsuits.
Zhuhai-based Gree sued Zhipu Supply Chain and Xi’an Huaxunde Trade, Philips’ distributor in China, for patent infringement in September last year.
Huaxunde Trade was not fined as it stopped selling the products in question as soon as the court informed the company.
The court rejected Gree’s other litigation claims. Its “serious infringement” claim was not considered as such by the court.
An industry veteran told Yicai Global that because some former Gree employees had joined Philips' air conditioning team, product patent infringement was difficult to avoid.
Zhipu Supply Chain's main investor is Xu Zifa, the former general agent of Gree in Hebei province. Huang Hui, the company's shareholder and executive, was Gree's chief engineer. Moreover, the Nanjing-based firm's core management team includes former senior managers from Gree.
Gree previously filed a number of lawsuits against competitors Midea and AUX Group in patent disputes over air conditioning technology.
If the lawsuits concern low-end patents, it is difficult for companies to win because the household aircon technologies are mature and homogeneous, the industry veteran noted.
Editors: Shi Yi, Futura Costaglione