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Syngenta Prevails in China Patent Infringement Case

by Jean-François Tremblay
September 27, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 39


Swiss agrochemical maker Syngenta has successfully concluded a lawsuit against a Chinese business group that it accused of copying one of its products (C&EN, Aug. 9, page 20).

Syngenta had argued that two Jiangsu province companies--Yancheng Luye Chemical and affiliate Yancheng Yongli Chemical--were illegally producing and selling thiamethoxam, a patented Syngenta insecticide that controls sucking pests. Syngenta demanded that the two companies cease their illegal production and promotion of thiamethoxam, agree not to repeat the violation, publicly apologize, pay Syngenta the maximum compensation allowed under the law, and bear court fees.

Under a court-sponsored settlement between the two parties, Syngenta got all it wanted except for the amount of compensation, which did not equal the maximum penalty. "It did not make any commercial sense to pursue the case further," says Susan Zhang, Syngenta's Shanghai-based spokeswoman. The case was handled by a court in Nanjing that has special expertise in intellectual property cases.

Syngenta got much more out of the Chinese legal system than most foreign companies have. Among several notorious examples, Toyota had argued in a Beijing court last year that a local manufacturer was infringing its trademark by producing cars bearing a logo similar to Toyota's. The court ruled last November that Toyota's logo was worthless in China because it was not well known.

Syngenta says it has invested some $150 million in China and that it employs more than 400 people in the country through joint ventures and its own operations.


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