SEATTLE (CN) - A Chinese company brazenly sold counterfeit John Deere products using copied logos, registered a shell "John Deere" company in the United States and complained to Chinese authorities that the real Deere products are fakes, Deere & Co. claims in a Dec. 2 lawsuit.
John Deere, known for its tractors and yellow and green logo of a leaping deer, sued American John Deere Petroleum Chemical Industry Group and its owner Guohui Zhao for trademark infringement and unfair business practices.
Zhao sold counterfeit oil and other engine fluids in China "and perhaps elsewhere," using the John Deere name and trademark after registering a fake Deere company to make the products seem legitimate, Deere says in the lawsuit.
"Without permission from Deere, the defendants in this case use Deere's trademarks to sell counterfeit oils and engine fluids in China and perhaps elsewhere. To further advance their veneer of legitimacy, defendants incorporated and registered a corporation in the State of Washington by the deceptive and peculiar corporate name of 'American John Deere Petroleum Chemical Industry Group, Inc.' Having this corporate name on the books, particularly in association with the defendants, harms Deere because it is likely to cause confusion or mistake," according to the complaint.
Then the counterfeiters went to Deere's customers and Chinese authorities, claiming that Deere was the one selling the fake goods, the company says.
"In addition to selling fake Deere products and registering this misleading corporate name, the defendants have taken a number of actions to project that they are the genuine John Deere to Deere's customers and Chinese authorities. On information and belief, the defendants have sought out Deere's customers and asserted to them that authentic Deere products sold by authorized Deere dealers are fake. The defendants have made similar false assertions to Chinese authorities. This complaint seeks relief from defendant's actions, including an injunction ordering the defendants to de-list the American John Deere Petroleum Chemical Industry Group, Inc.," the complaint states.
Deere seeks an order immediately de-listing the company with the Washington Secretary of State and an injunction preventing the use of Deere names or trademarks.
It also seeks treble damages for false description and representation, false designation of origin, unfair competition and trademark infringement, and an accounting of Zhao's profits.
Deere is represented by William Ferron Jr., with Seed IP Law Group.