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Michelin 'counterfeit' tire lawsuit targets Canadian firm

Michelin Group is suing a Canadian tire dealer for selling allegedly counterfeit tires.

The lawsuit, filed April 26 in a New Brunswick court, claims Tire Boys & Auto Service Inc. of Oromocto, New Brunswick, (d.b.a Atlantic Tire King) sold Chinese-made tires under the Wideway brand that violate intellectual property rights for the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2.

"Tire Boys & Auto Service Inc. sell Wideway-brand tires that are virtually identical in tread design as the All-Terrain T/A KO2 tires," Michelin told Tire Business.

Michelin filed the lawsuit in the Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick, (Cie. Generale des Etablissements Michelin versus Tire Boys & Auto Service Inc., case no. SJC-52-2022).

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In the complaint, Michelin alleges that the Wideway All-Terrain T/A AK3 tire features a tread design that's "virtually identical ... with substantially the same features as those protected by intellectual property rights" for the BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 tire, which Michelin manufactures in the U.S. under its BFGoodrich Tires brand.

Atlantic Tire King lists the Wideway brand tire in question on its website. The dealership has not yet responded to a Tire Business request for comment.

The lawsuit in Canada, Michelin said, is one of many actions the company has taken against Wideway to protect its intellectual property rights.

Michelin said the DOT code identification on the Wideway All-Terrain T/A AK3 tire indicate the product is manufactured in China. Shandong Wideway has not been issued a U.S. Department of Transportation tire plant code, according to Tire Business' review of the DOT data base, indicating it was produced under contract to Wideway by a third-party manufacturer.

Shandong Wideway, based in Qingdao, China, was established in 2011 and introduced its All-Terrain T/A in 2019, according to its website. The Qingdao, Shandong-based company claims it sells more than 350 sizes of tires in 80 countries.

"The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 tire and its legacy represent the achievement of many years of technical development in the Michelin organization," Harold Phillips, global general manager for BFGoodrich Tires brand, said.

"Unrivaled in off-road performance and loyalty, many competitors have tried and failed to match its capabilities. Michelin will actively defend its products, and we will continue to protect our intellectual property rights."

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The original BFGoodrich Tires All-Terrain T/A KO tire — the predecessor for the T/A KO2 product at the center of the litigation — was among the first dedicated off-road light truck tires when it was introduced in 1976, according to the company.

The T/A trademark has been in use in Canada since 1977, Michelin said in its suit.

Every tire is stamped with "Baja Champion" on the sidewall, representing its class-winning status in the grueling SCORE Baja 1000.

The T/A KO2 has been selected as original equipment for the Ford F-150 Raptor and the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Michelin said.