Chinese Dyson counterfeiters get jail terms and fines

Four men have been sentenced to prison in China for their part in a counterfeiting operation targeting products made by UK technology company Dyson.

The four – named in the People’s Court of Shanghai Pudong as Fang, Xie, Yang, and Huang – are said to be the main ringleaders in the criminal network, which stripped down Dyson products including hair dryers, reverse engineered copycat versions and set up production lines and retail channels to sell them.

This is said to be the first counterfeiting case brought by Dyson against trademark infringers in China, says a court notice (in Chinese). The court found that “Dyson” was a trademark approved and registered in China since 2010.

All told, 35 defendants have now been sentenced with a range of penalties, including jail time and fines totally around $1.4m.

In the latest round of sentencing, Fang received a six-year term and a 5m yuan fine (around $715,000) for the crime of counterfeiting registered trademarks, while Xie got give years and a fine of 1.6m yuan.

The other defendants all received sentences of at least 18 months, according to the court.

Fang and Xie were principals in a company called Dimesil Electronics, set up in Shenzhen in 2018, which operated several factories making counterfeit Dyson Supersonic hair dryers in different versions for the European, US and Australian markets.

The dryers were sold for around $100, well below the usual selling price of more than $400 for the genuine Dyson products. In December 2018, a raid on the company netted 277 dryers plus accessories, along with fake packaging and other trademarked materials.

The court held that the four defendants used Dyson trademarks on the counterfeit products without the permission of the registered trademark owner, and had likely sold at least 190,000 of the knock-offs before the operation was shut down, raising an estimated 13.5m yuan (almost $2m).

Chinese police have previously suggested that the success with Dyson hair dryers meant that the company – which was set up originally to make and sell its own-brand products but failed to make a successful business that way – was preparing to start copying other Dyson products including hair curlers and vacuum cleaners.

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