On June 27, 2012, the Seoul Central District Court granted a preliminary injunction in favor of Dyson, Inc., prohibiting the defendant company from manufacturing, selling or importing bladeless fans (Case No. 2011 KaHab 2207 decided on June 27, 2012). The Court held that the bladeless fans sold by the defendant infringed Dyson’s patent rights, and further held that the defendant violated the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act ("UCPA").
Dyson is the assignee of Korean Patent No. 1,038,000 for its bladeless fan (‘Air Multiplier Fan’), the infringement of which was addressed in the preliminary injunction action. In the related invalidation action, the Intellectual Property Tribunal had already found the patent to be novel and inventive over references cited by the defendant, most of which were applications of Bernoulli's equation (Case No. 2011 Dang 1676 decided on January 17, 2012).
As to the issue of infringement, the Court ordered the defendant to stop manufacturing, selling or importing the bladeless fans since they included all the features of Dyson’s patented invention. Further, the Court held that the defendant violated Article 2(1)(ix) of the UCPA the design of the defendant’s fan seemed to be based on Dyson’s fan and thus constituted copying. One interesting note is that the three-year protection period provided under the UCPA was deemed to commence when Dyson’s Air Multiplier Fan was first introduced to the public (in any country throughout the world).
This case is noteworthy since it was the first time in which a court applied both patent infringement and unfair competition grounds to stop the manufacture and sale of a copied good.