High Court Overturns Award in Tractor Case
February 6, 2012
Yanmar Co., Ltd.
Yanmar Company, Ltd. of Japan, a worldwide manufacturer of agricultural equipment, engines and other products, and its Georgia-based subsidiary, Yanmar America Corporation (formerly known as Yanmar Diesel America Corportation), have announced the successful appeal of a suit involving the alleged illegal importation of used “gray market” Yanmar® tractors and an injury resulting from one on those gray market tractors. The Yanmar entities were filed suit against by Wanda Slater, wife of deceased Rudy Slater, alleging that the defendants 1) defectively designed the gray market tractor [which were intended for sale and use only within Japan], and 2) facilitated and brokered the importation of used Yanmar® tractors from Japan to the United States [which were intended for sale and use only within Japan].
Products which are imported into a market not intended by the trademark holder and without its consent are known as “gray market” products. Although the Yanmar® tractors designed and intended for the Japanese market (“Japanese Local Market tractors”) complied with applicable Japanese safety standards and regulations, they often do not comply with United States safety standards and regulations, and pose a potential safety risk to unsuspecting United States consumers. The same potential safety risks are posed by Japanese Local Market tractors originally manufactured by Yanmar for the Zen-Noh farm cooperative in Japan bearing both “Zen-Noh” and “Yanmar” labeling, which have also been brokered into the United States.
As part of the Slater decision of the Arkansas Supreme Court, the court found that the link between the two companies was not strong enough that the circuit court had jurisdiction over Yanmar Japan. The court went on to rule that there was no evidence that Yanmar America had any responsibility for the defective tractor. Yanmar America was not in business when the tractor was manufactured. The company did not distribute the tractor or have any involvement in the “gray market” that brought it to the U.S.
“It is uncontroverted that Yanmar America never sold Mr. Slater a part for his tractor,” the opinion noted. Yanmar America argued that it did try to stop gray market sales, but that this did not mean it took on a duty to protect people from the tractors brought in through that market. The court agreed.
For the full article from Arkansas Online, go to: http://www.arkansasonline.com/search/?query=High+court+overturns+award+in+tractor+case&x=20&y=8.com
Yanmar continues to oppose gray market importation in order to protect consumer safety and Yanmar’s own trademarks and reputation. Any questions concerning Yanmar’s continuing efforts in this regard or about the Arkansas Supreme Court decision in Slater should be referred to Ryan M. Pott, Director of Legal Affairs, Yanmar America Corporation, 101 International Parkway, Adairsville, Georgia 30103 (770) 877-9894.