Nashville, Tennessee – Michelin North America Inc. is suing Tire Recappers of Nashville Inc., alleging the retreader has infringed on patented Michelin and BFGoodrich tread patterns.
Michelin filed the complaint July 10 before the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.
At issue are US Design Patent Nos. D530,266 and D639,235 — the D'266 and D'235 patents, as designated in the suit.
Michelin has held the D'266 patent since Oct. 17, 2006 and the D'235 patent since June 7, 2011, the tire maker said.
The D'266 patent is the tread design for various BFGoodrich tires, including the BFGoodrich T/A KM2, according to Michelin. The D'235 patent is the tread design for several Michelin tires, including the Michelin LTX M/S 2, it said.
Michelin claims that Tire Recappers offers tires for sale that infringe on the D'266 and D'235 patents.
"Tire Recappers offers the Cross Grip M/T tires for sale," the complaint said.
"In the eye of the ordinary observer…the claimed design of the D'266 patent and the tread design of at least Tire Recappers' Cross Grip M/T tiers are substantially the same," Michelin said.
Michelin made the same claim regarding the D'235 patent and Tire Recappers' All Position Highway 2 tire. In both cases, the tire maker presented pictures and diagrams to illustrate its point.
Michelin asked the court to permanently enjoin Tire Recappers from its alleged infringement of Michelin's patents. It also asked for compensatory damages; reimbursement of profits Tire Recappers made from tires found to infringe on Michelin's patents; and attorneys' fees and court costs.
Thomas Ford Sr., CEO of Tire Recappers, declined an opportunity comment.
According to the Tire Recappers website, the company was founded in 1960 by CE Ford, Thomas Ford Sr.'s father. Thomas Ford Sr.'s sons, Thomas Jr., Lee and Andrew, are all active in the business, according to the site.
Using top-of-the-line equipment from Italy and Germany and the tread rubber recipe developed in the 1950s by CE Ford, Tire Recappers offers a full line of retread tires and supplies a wide range of customers including Federal Express, the US Postal Service, US Air Force bases and stock-car racing teams, the website said.