#23 Breaking the circuit

Back in 2007 when the world’s largest manufacturer of circuit breakers, Schneider Electric of France signed an MoU for a joint venture with Delixi corporation of China, then the second largest producer of low-voltage electric appliances, everything seemed to be peaches and cream. By that time, Schneider Electric had been steadily building up its China business through its Chinese subsidiary, Schneider Electric China Investment. It had entered into agreements with more than 2000 property developers, thus riding the wave of the infrastructure boom. But today, in April 2009, things look quite different. In 2007, Schneider had lost a $48 mio lawsuit by Chint of China who claimed infringement on their intellectual property. Then, Schneider had appealed to the high court, but now they have settled out of court for $23 mio. What’s even more significant than the fact that this was the highest award in a Chinese IPR infringement case so far, is the fact that experts predict an ever growing wave of patent lawsuits by Chinese companies against foreign competitors.

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