June 12 2007.

Yamaha Motor Co. has won a lawsuit against Chinese motorcycle makers that it claimed used its logo without authorization.

China's Supreme People's Court awarded Yamaha 8.3 million yuan, or about 130 million yen, in damages, the largest amount ever in a Chinese lawsuit over a motorcycle trademark, according to the company.

"(The court) has provided clear grounds for how to calculate the amount of damages, something that has often been arbitrary in China," an official at the Japan External Trade Organization's Beijing office said. "This is a landmark ruling that we can expect will help deter similar practices."

The stringent ruling appears to be aimed at demonstrating China's commitment to fighting intellectual property rights abuses at a time when the country is coming under growing international pressure to crack down on rampant piracy and counterfeiting.

Yamaha filed the suit against Zhejiang Huatian Industry Co. and three other firms, claiming that they manufactured and sold motorcycles bearing Yamaha's logo without permission. In addition to the damages, the firms were ordered to cease production and sales of the vehicles in question and issue a public apology.

"I think the ruling will provide helpful clues to companies facing similar problems," said a Yamaha official, "We will continue taking a firm stance against infringements of our intellectual property."

In 2002, the company was awarded 900,000 yuan in damages in a similar case in China. In 2004, Honda Motor Co. won a trademark suit over a logo that closely resembled its own and was granted about 1.47 million yuan in damages.

Source: The Nikkei Tuesday evening edition