MENLO PARK, Calif., Nov. 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ropers Majeski, a multi-national law firm representing clients in litigation and transactions internationally, secured a $14.5 million trademark infringement jury verdict in the U.S. Court for the Northern District of California (N.D. Cal) on November 17 for client SinCo Technologies (SINCO), a Singapore-based supplier to tier-one OEM consumer electronic tech companies. Litigation Partner Lael Andara led the Ropers Majeski trial team.
“We’re grateful that the jury unanimously and clearly understood and agreed with our assertion that initial interest confusion occurred,” said Andara. “Ultimately, such willful behavior stifles innovation, slows product development, chills entrepreneurialism, and has the potential to impact the end consumer experience negatively. Hopefully, this substantial verdict serves as a deterrent to similar activity in the future.”
SINCO sued its contract manufacturer Sinco Electronics (Dongguan) Co. (subsidiary of Jinlong Machinery & Electronics Co., Ltd.), now called “XINGKE,” for trademark infringement on Sept. 22, 2017, in N.D. Cal. XINGKE claimed an affirmative defense of abandonment. SINCO initially granted its contract manufacturer XINGKE a geographically limited license to use its trademark in China within the scope of work for SINCO before 2016. XINGKE was acquired by a competitor of SINCO in 2016, under the direction of Mui Liang Tjoa.
Shortly after the acquisition, SINCO learned its employees Mark Liew and Cy Ng, who were stationed in China to oversee SINCO’s interests at the factory, had traveled to the United States to meet with SINCO’s customers – without the knowledge and permission of SINCO. Before resigning from SINCO, defendants Liew and Ng introduced Tjoa to SINCO customers in the U.S. during several unauthorized visits in 2016 and 2017. XINGKE and its agents used SINCO’s trademarks registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the previous relationship of its employees to divert SINCO’s business to China. In 2018, Federal Judge Edward Chen issued a preliminary injunction banning the defendants from using “SinCo” and “SinCoo.”
In a related pending case, SINCO has further alleged that in 2016, XINGKE recruited SINCO’s employees to violate their employment contracts in an effort to obtain SINCO’s trade secrets as part of a conspiracy to divert SINCO’s business in the United States to China. Those claims go to trial in 2022 in separate litigation pending in the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, where SINCO has also obtained two preliminary injunctions against their ex-employees, Liew in 2017 and Ng in 2018. (Case. No. 16CV301867).
The recent federal trademark case was heard by an eight-member jury from November 1 – 17 in Judge Chen’s court in San Francisco. After three days of deliberation, the jury unanimously found in favor of SINCO and against XINGKE and its agents on the issue of trademark infringement, awarding a total of $14.5 million of damages to SINCO Technologies. $11 million was awarded against defendant XINGKE, $2 million against defendant Tjoa, and $750K each was awarded against defendants Liew and Ng for willful trademark infringement of SINCO’s U.S. trademarks.
The case is Sinco Technologies Pte Ltd. v. Sinco Electronics (Dongguan) Co. Ltd., et al., Case No. 17-cv-05517-EMC.
Kalisha M. Crawford
Director of Marketing & Business Development
Ropers Majeski PC