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Toyo Tire files U.S. trade complaint to block Chinese copycats

Toyo Tire U.S. trade complaint

Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., the maker of tires for Audi and Toyota vehicles, said it lodged a U.S. trade complaint accusing almost two dozen companies of selling replacements that copy its patented tread and sidewall designs.

In the complaint, filed Wednesday with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington, Japan-based Toyo claimed tires made in China and Thailand are copying proprietary designs used for the Toyo and Nitto brand of tires. It asks that the trade agency block U.S. imports of products that infringe eight patents.

“Toyo’s tires are specifically designed to provide unique and distinctive tread and sidewall designs without compromising optimum performance in their intended environment, whether on an interstate highway, a back-country road or off-road,” the company said in the complaint.

Toyo, which also makes tires for Lexus, Mazda, Nissan and Scion vehicles, may expand U.S. production based on demand for vehicles with higher profit margins like sport-utility vehicles and pickup trucks, Toyo President Akira Nobuki said in July. About 36 percent of the manufacturer’s sales comes from North America, and Toyo is among companies benefiting from the recovery of the U.S. auto market.