Chang Tsi Successfully Assists Johnson Controls in Pursuing a Trademark Criminal Case



Recently, Dongguan Second Primary People’s Court issued a first-instance criminal judgment on a case involving YORK and JOHNSON CONTROLS counterfeit temperature controllers. The court found that the two suspects in this case, who produced and/or sold counterfeit temperature controllers, were guilty of the crimes of counterfeiting registered trademarks and selling goods with counterfeit registered trademarks respectively, and were each sentenced to four years and three years of imprisonment with fines.

This case involves many well-known domestic and foreign brands of temperature controller products, including YORK and JOHNSON CONTROLS owned by Johnson Controls and its affiliates. As Johnson Controls’ entrusted IP law firm in China, our team participated in this case throughout the criminal investigation, public prosecution and trial, successfully achieving a first-instance substantive sentence.

Here is a brief review of the case:

In August 2021, Dongguan Public Security Bureau (“Dongguan PSB”) raided a den producing and selling counterfeit temperature controller products, and arrested the suspects ZHU and CHEN. The bureau seized temperature controller products of multiple brands at the scene, including over a hundred pieces bearing the "YORK" and "JOHNSON CONTROLS" trademarks. Entrusted by Johnson Controls, our team filed the formal report with Dongguan PSB on behalf of the victim. We actively assisted Dongguan PSB in verifying the seized YORK and JOHNSON CONTROLS temperature controllers, and issued the formal verification report identifying the counterfeits.

The counterfeit temperature controllers seized during Dongguan PSB’s raid action

In 2022, the case was transferred to Dongguan Second People's Procuratorate. In June 2023, the procuratorate formally brought charges against the suspects to the Dongguan Second Primary People’s Court. After a public trial, the court confirmed that suspect ZHU had been producing and processing counterfeit temperature controllers of many brands, including YORK and JOHNSON CONTROLS, since 2018, and sold them through Taobao online stores. Suspect CHEN had been selling the temperature controllers involved in the case online since 2020. By the time of the arrest, suspect ZHU had produced and sold counterfeit temperature controllers worth approximately CNY 1 million (about USD 140,000), and CHEN sold counterfeit temperature controllers worth approximately CNY 300,000 (about USD 42,000). Based on the facts, the court found suspect ZHU guilty of the crime of counterfeiting registered trademarks, sentenced to four years in prison, and fined CNY 300,000 (about USD 42,000); suspect CHEN was found guilty of the crime of selling goods with counterfeit registered trademarks, sentenced to three years in prison, along with a fine of CNY 100,000 (about USD 14,000). 

Johnson Controls is a global leader in diversified technology and industrial sectors. Johnson Controls and its affiliates own many well-known brands, including the globally renowned YORK in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration (HVAC&R) products and services. Johnson Controls and its affiliates have always placed a high priority on protecting their intellectual property rights. In response to counterfeit and infringement activities targeting their brands, Johnson Controls spares no effort in protecting their rights and punishing infringers through criminal, administrative, civil litigations and other channels.

This case has a positive significance in cracking down on counterfeits, safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of the rights holders, and improving the market environment. In the future, Chang Tsi will continue to provide high-level services and customized IP protection solutions to safeguard our clients’ legitimate rights and interests in China.

Tracy Shen
Partner | Attorney at Law
Related News