Navigating Cross-border Trademark Infringement: AEGIS Law’s Pursuit of Justice in U.S. and China

Following their historic triumph in Hytto Ltd. v. Shenzhen Xiaoteng Technology Ltd., where they secured one of the most substantial trademark infringement judgments from Judge Thomas Durkin of the Northern District of Illinois, AEGIS Law is gearing up for their next major task: enforcing the judgment across both U.S. and Chinese terrains.

The U.S. Context: Seizing Assets with Relative Ease

Within the U.S., online payment platforms such as PayPal, Amazon, and eBay, along with traditional banking institutions, are typically responsive in aiding the transfer of assets from erring web stores to rightful plaintiffs. Yet, the real challenge lies across the ocean, in the intricacies of Chinese legal landscape.

The Complexities of Enforcing U.S. Judgments in China

Countries with mutual enforcement treaties find the cross-border enforcement of judgments straightforward. However, the U.S. and China lack such a treaty, leading several China-based entities to assume that their assets in China remain invulnerable to U.S. legal repercussions.

This misconception, however, has been debunked on multiple occasions. Notably, since 2007, Chinese courts have recognized at least four U.S. judgments. With strategic planning and persistence, AEGIS Law aims to make their $3.6 million judgment in the Hytto v. Shenzhen case the fifth to join this list.

Chinese courts’ willingness to enforce U.S. decisions, including default rulings, springs from the reciprocity principle, summarized as: “You honor our rulings, and we’ll reciprocate.” The Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (UEFJA), adopted by 36 states including Illinois, ensures U.S. courts respect foreign judgments. Consequently, Illinois courts, including the esteemed Northern District of Illinois federal court, routinely recognize and act upon judgments from Chinese domestic courts.

The Principle of “Reciprocity” and Its Intricacies

However, it’s not always as linear as it seems. When determining reciprocity, Chinese courts consider the U.S. as a singular jurisdiction, regardless of individual state stances. Thus, just because a judgment originates from a UEFJA-adopting state doesn’t guarantee its enforcement in China. The key factor lies in the general U.S. stance towards Chinese judgments, which predominantly favors reciprocity.

Other determinants include:

  • The adequacy of the defendant’s service process, possibly involving the Hague Convention.
  • The alignment of the judgment with existing Chinese legal frameworks.
  • The nationality of the plaintiff, with preference to Chinese entities.
  • The “finality” of the judgment in question.

Given these elements, AEGIS Law remains optimistic about the reciprocity and recognition of their client’s judgment. If they succeed in enforcing the judgment in China, the subsequent challenge will be asset identification and seizure on behalf of their client.  For more information about this topic, contact AEGIS Law attorney Patrick Jones.

AEGIS Law Attorney Patrick Jones

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