Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., the maker of tires for Audi and Toyota vehicles, said it lodged a U.S. trade complaint accusing almost two dozen companies of selling replacements that copy its patented tread and sidewall designs.
In the complaint, filed today with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, Osaka-based Toyo claimed tires made in China and Thailand are copying proprietary designs used for the Toyo and Nitto brand of tires. It asks that the trade agency block U.S. imports of products that infringe eight patents.
“Toyo’s tires are specifically designed to provide unique and distinctive tread and sidewall designs without compromising optimum performance in their intended environment, whether on an interstate highway, a back-country road or off-road,” the company said in the complaint.
Toyo, which also makes tires for Lexus, Mazda, Nissan and Scion vehicles, may expand U.S. production based on demand for vehicles with higher profit margins like sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks, Toyo President Akira Nobuki said in a July 2 interview. About 36 percent of the manufacturer’s sales comes from North America, and Toyo is among companies benefiting from the recovery of the U.S. auto market.
The company has a manufacturing and warehouse facility in White, Georgia, and has hundreds of employees nationwide making and selling millions of tires, according to the complaint.
Among the 22 manufacturers, importers and sellers named in the complaint are Weifang Shunfuchang Rubber & Plastic Co., Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co., Shandong Linglong Tyre Co., Dunlap & Kyle Co. and South China Tire & Rubber Co.
The complaint is In the Matter of Certain Tires and Products Containing Same, U.S. International Trade Commission (Washington).