Phanawatnan shows his patented fire-extinguishing ball.
Phanawatnan shows his patented fire-extinguishing ball.

Thai sues Jack Ma, Alibaba unit for alleged IP breaches

Corporate April 06, 2017 01:00

By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
THE NATION

5,397 Viewed

ELIDE FIRE Ball Pro Company, manufacturer of a fire-extinguishing ball patented by a Thai inventor, is suing Hangzhou Alibaba Advertising Co and Jack Ma, the man behind online shopping websites Alibaba and AliExpress, for allegedly promoting the sale of counterfeit goods.



“As the Thai government has set a policy for the country to shift to Thailand 4.0 with a value-based economy led by innovation, Thai entrepreneurs will face serious problems of intellectual-property violations in the world market more than ever,” said Phanawatnan Kaimart, chief executive officer of Elide Fire Ball Pro Co. 

“They have to fight legally for their rights, and I want my case to be an example for them.” 

As of the press time yesterday Alibaba Group was preparing a statement regarding the issue.

Phanawatnan said that in the short term, any piracy would negatively affect the country’s innovation development as individual inventors are not confident about infringement protection. In the long term, inventors will be afraid of creating any new innovations. 

“In the worst-case scenario, there will be no more or very few inventions from Thailand, as Thai creators do not believe that the laws and regulations will protect them properly.”

Elide Fire Balls are now available in more than 60 countries. The product was first launched in 2005.

Alibaba has been accused of violating the copyright of the Elide Fire Ball fire-extinguishing ball by Elide Fire Ball Pro Co. The product holds Thai Patent No 18966 and US Patent No 6,796,382. 

Registered with the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the product was invented by Phanawatnan “Woradech” Kaimart and is a copyright of Elide Fire Ball Pro Co. “Elide Fire Extinguishing Ball” is also a registered trademark.

Alibaba has been accused of promoting the sale of the AFO fire-extinguishing ball, which Elide claims is a counterfeit product, through its website, while AliExpress sells and delivers AFO products to buyers around the world. 

Elide claims this has severely damaged its business because the AFO product is a lot cheaper, but cannot actually extinguish a fire, thus hurting the reputation of the patented product. Many distributors have lost confidence in the Elide product and cancelled orders, it says. 

The damage is estimated at almost Bt3 billion, including sales opportunity losses.

As a result, Elide Fire Ball Pro |Co has filed a lawsuit against Hangzhou Alibaba Advertising Co and Jack Ma. The case was accepted on March 29 for consideration |by Thailand’s Central Court of Intellectual Property and International Trade.

Prior to this case, the AFO fire-extinguishing ball was found guilty of violating Patent No 18966 by the same court a couple of years ago.

The Elide Fire Ball won the Best Invention award in 2001 from the National Research Council of Thailand, as well as the People’s Choice Award and the Best Product Award from The Nation the same year. 

In 2003, the Editorial Office Trade Leaders Club presented the Elide Fire Ball with an International New Millennium Award at the International Award for Business Leadership and Prestige event in Berlin, Germany.

In 2004, it received an International Quality Crown Award in Britain. Phanawatnan then won a World Inventor Medal in Tokyo. 

In 2008, the Elide Fire Ball won the WIPO Award from the World Intellectual Property Organisation along with a gold medal. 

Last year, it was chosen as No 1 on the list of the “Top 100 Awesome Products for First-Half 2016” by blogger Awesome Techs.