At this year’s SEMA show in Las Vegas, U.S. federal marshals took action against a Chinese company and seized every product from their booth in the name of German spray gun manufacturer SATA. SATA was awarded $2 million in damages against the Chinese company for patent and trademark infringement that occurred at the 2013 Automobile Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) Show in Las Vegas.
As a manufacturer of high-quality products that enjoys an excellent reputation all over the world, SATA GmbH & Co. KG, a German manufacturer of products for the paint spraying industry including spray guns, paint cups, breathing protection equipment and filters, has waged continuous and successful fights against counterfeiters. SATA monitors websites, the market and trade shows worldwide to protect its customers from low-quality fake products. When illegal copies are found at trade shows, shops or factories, SATA takes the necessary steps to ensure that the proper law enforcement authorities such as customs, federal marshals or police raid the properties and seize any counterfeit goods.
At the 2013 AAPEX Show, SATA representatives detected several spray guns, posters and leaflets at the booth of Wenzhou T&E Industrial Co., Ltd., that infringed several of SATA’s registered trademarks and design patents. SATA’s attorneys filed a complaint against T&E with the District Court of Nevada and requested a temporary restraining, seizure order and preliminary injunction. The court granted SATA’s requests and ordered federal marshals to seize property at T&E’s booth. In addition to the infringing and counterfeit products, federal marshals also seized posters, advertisement material, electronically stored data from laptops and cell phones, order books and other documents. The information was then copied and provided to SATA. By analyzing the seized data, SATA gained valuable insight into the organization of the infringer and its network of suppliers, partner companies and customers.
Several months after the seizure, the District Court rendered a judgment in which T&E was ordered to pay SATA statutory damages in the amount of $2 million plus SATA’s attorneys’ fees and other costs. Further, T&E was ordered to stop using SATA’s trademarks and the subjects of SATA’s design patents. T&E failed to pay the judgement, and SATA sought and received a Writ of Execution. In late 2016, SATA discovered through their monitoring system that T&E would be an exhibitor at this year’s SEMA Show. Due to the judgment and writ, SATA is entitled to seize any assets of T&E in the U.S. until the damages due are paid. So, SATA entrusted their attorney at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to contact the Federal Marshal Service and request a seizure action against T&E at the beginning of the show. The Federal Marshal Service granted SATA’s request and took action against T&E on November 1st, 2016, the first day of this year’s SEMA Show.
During the seizure, all products from T&E’s booth were seized, including spray guns and other tools, motor parts, catalogs, posters, order books and also laptops and cell phones. Even the name tag of the company was taken from the booth. The data from the seized laptops and cell phones will be provided to SATA to use in their fight against counterfeiting activities.
In the two days after the seizure, SATA filed complaints against two new exhibitors at AAPEX and SEMA for patent and trademark infringement. SATA will further monitor potential infringers and their activities worldwide online in the market and at trade shows, and will take further actions against infringers. Such actions are not limited to manufacturers of patent or trademark infringing products, but are also focused on dealers of SATA copies in any country worldwide.