Houston, Texas — Michelin North America Inc. has filed suit against Houston-based Tri-Ace Wheel & Tire Corp. and its Black Bear USA affiliate, alleging they are infringing on the design patent for the BFGoodrich All-Terrain A/T KO2 tire.
The Black Bear All-Terrain II tire is a counterfeit of the BFGoodrich tire, according to the suit filed 17 Dec in US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.
The Black Bear tire "includes a virtually identical tread design with substantially the same features as those protected by patents for the All-Terrain T/A KO2," Michelin said in a news release.
The All-Terrain T/A KO tire, immediate predecessor of the KO2, created and defined the all-terrain tire category when BFGoodrich introduced it in 1976, according to Michelin.
"KO2 also is consistently ranked at or near the top of its category," the tire maker said. "Buyers on tirerack.com, for example, report driving the KO2 more than 12 million miles and assign a 4.5-star rating from a maximum 5 stars."
Officials of Tri-Ace could not be reached for comment.
This suit comes a few months after the US District Court for the Central District of California awarded Toyo Tire Corp. and Toyo Tire USA Corp. $16.7 million (€15 million) in a default judgment against Hong Kong Tri-Ace Wheel & Tire Corp. (HKTA).
The court ruled that MKTA's Amp M/T tire infringed on Toyo patent designs for its Open Country M/T tire line.