Elide Fire Ball sues Alibaba
Elide Fire Ball Pro, the Thai manufacturer and vendor of "Elide Fire Ball" fire-extinguishing ball, is suing Hangzhou Alibaba Advertising and Jack Ma, the man behind online shopping websites Alibaba and AliExpress, for allegedly promoting the sale of counterfeit goods.
The Elide Fire Ball is a patented product owned by its inventor Phanawatnan Kaimart, the chief executive of Elide Fire Ball Pro.
Elide Fire is accusing Alibaba of promoting the sale of "AFO" fire-extinguishing ball, which it says is a counterfeit good, through its website. AliExpress sells and delivers AFO balls to buyers around the world through its e-commerce system.
The sales have severely hurt the distribution of Elide Fire Ball Pro because the counterfeit good is a lot cheaper, said Mr Phanawatnan.
The counterfeit good also cannot actually extinguish a fire, hurting the reputation of the patented product, he claimed. Many distributors have lost their confidence and cancelled orders. Mr Phanawatnan estimated the damage at almost 3 billion baht.
The Elide Fire ball was invented by Phanawatnan (Woradech) Kaimart and is a copyright of Elide Fire Ball Pro Co Ltd. A company statement says it holds Thai Patent No.18966 and US Patent No.6,796,382.
"Elide Fire Extinguishing Ball" is also a registered trademark.
"Elide Fire Ball Pro Co has filed a lawsuit against Hangzhou Alibaba Advertising Co Ltd [defendant No.1] and Jack Ma [defendant No.2]," said the statement. The case was filed with Thailand's Central Court of Intellectual Property and International Trade, said Mr Phanawatnan.
Elide Fire Ball was awarded Best Invention in 2001 by the National Research Council of Thailand. In 2003, the Editorial Office Trade Leaders Club presented Elide Fire Ball an International New Millennium Award at the International Awards for Business Leadership & Prestige in Berlin, Germany.
In 2004, it received an International Quality Crown Award in the UK. Its inventor then won a World Inventor Medal in Tokyo.
In 2008 the product won the WIPO award from the World Intellectual Property Organization along with a gold medal. It also received a trophy, two gold medals and the Semi Grand Prize Certificate at the International Invention event in Seoul, South Korea. Last year it was chosen as No.1 in Top 100 Awesome Products for First Half 2016 by Blogger Awesome Techs.
Chachawal Sawee, an intellectual property specialist, said patent law is designed to protect an inventor from infringement by others, even if the infringement is conceived through an original idea.