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Supreme Court Upholds Kobe Steel's Trademark Protection

January 31, 2011

Recently, the Supreme Court of Thailand hammered a local infringer into compliance with the law. A major counterfeiting problem has been revealed in the welding market. Hardest hit by this problem is Kobe Steel, Ltd., a leading Japanese steelmaker and one of the largest welding manufacturers and distributors in numerous countries worldwide, including Thailand. The decisive victory of Kobe Steel, Ltd. before Thailand's highest court proves that Kobe Steel's marks are as strong as the company.

As a result of its decades-long presence in Thailand, Kobe Steel, Ltd. has developed an unparalleled reputation and goodwill in the industry. lts trademarks,"KOBE STEEL" and "RB-26",  and red-black packages are immediately recognizable among welding customers due to their widespread fame and distinctive appearance.

Kobe Steel, Ltd. is serious about protecting its valuable trademarks and will not hesitate to take decisive action to rid the market of illegal counterfeit products. In a recent display of its determination on this issue, Kobe Steel, Ltd. filed a lawsuit against a local distributor of fake products, demanding cancellation of the imitation trademarks on November 24, 2005. 0n October 8, 2007, the Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court of Thailand upheld Kobe Steel's rights. The local distributor, however, filed the final appeal with the Supreme Court.

On November 8, 2010, finally, justice prevailed as the Supreme Court of Thailand rendered judgment stating that the local distributor infringed Kobe Steel's rights by imitating the trademarks and unique red-black packaging boxes. The Supreme Court held that the local distributor acted in bad faith by using packaging that was purposefully similar to the unique packaging employed by Kobe Steel, Ltd., and that such infringement has caused confusion and misled the public or the consumers as to the proprietorship of the welding goads.

This represents a stern, unmistakable warning to all infringers to think twice before imitating trademarks because trademark owners such as Kobe Steel, Ltd. will pursue retribution and infringers will surely receive harsh punishments. It also sends a clear message to consumers that counterfeits exist in all markets and they must use caution when purchasing products in order to avoid being deceived into buying worthless fakes, rather than the high-quality goods they deserve.

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