Good news in the battle against design rip-offs: After a two-year struggle, Joseph Joseph has pulled off a landmark victory against a group of Chinese companies that went above and beyond your average levels of product design piracy.
A company called Ningbo John and five of its subsidiaries not only blatantly copied Joseph Joseph's Index Chopping Board, but went so far as to patent it in China, claiming they owned both the design and the brand name. The ballsy step was followed by Ningbo John then producing the knockoff and selling it around the world, earning millions of ill-gotten dollars.
"We've taken many Chinese companies to task over product infringement, but this was the first time they'd dared to register our design and brand name as their own," explained Managing Director Richard Joseph. "When we challenged them on it they actually threatened to sue us because the products were 'their' design! They claimed to customers that they owned the design registration and brand name and therefore could sell the copies, which is just a blatant lie."
Joseph Joseph brought the case to a Chinese court, who eventually ruled in Joseph Joseph's favor and revoked Ningbo John's patent. This is an extremely encouraging sign that the Chinese legal system is willing to address design piracy, and will hopefully have a ripple effect on illicit operations looking to make a quick yuan.
In the meantime the battles, of course, will continue. The company reports there are still "a long list of infringers" they need to target and pursue. "We're totally committed to fighting copies head on wherever they appear and are determined to win however long that takes," said Joseph. "This case also forcefully demonstrates the necessity of fighting to the bitter end: If you really care about your brand name and design you fight until you win."