Empire Level (Empire), a leading designer of accurate and durable measuring tools for professionals and at-home use, is fighting to eliminate counterfeiting of its iconic torpedo level. During the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas on May 8, Empire took legal action against Chinese companies alleged to be participating in counterfeiting efforts while on American soil.
Empire’s legal counsel served a complaint and summons to eight Chinese companies, taking photos of exhibiting companies on the show floor displaying allegedly infringing product to be used in legal proceedings. The Mukwonago, WI-based company is seeking an immediate temporary restraining order from a Las Vegas federal judge to end any displays of the counterfeit goods at the show and a seizure of the goods.
Being charged with counterfeiting are Wuxi Just Int’l Trading Company, Jinhua Shunchi Tools Factory, Zhejiang YongKang Shiya Wanxin Tools Factory, Zhejiang Boda Measure Tools Co. Ltd., Shaoxing Sunway Tools & Hardware Import & Export Co. Ltd., Cixi Ocean Trade Co. Ltd., and Toolrich Corporation.
“Not only do these counterfeiters hurt our business and our brand, they are a threat to our economy and American jobs. We refuse to sit still and allow the distinctive features of our products to be knocked off,” said Jenni Becker, president, Empire Level. “It’s damaging to our company and it’s not fair to the end customer who believes they’re getting a superior product when they’re not.”
Attorney Peter Jansson of Jansson Munger McKinley & Shape Ltd., who represents Empire, conveyed that the efforts being made will likely lead to early judgments and a permanent exclusion order against the named defendants. All legal proceedings are expected to be complete within two months.
In an additional measure to keep counterfeit levels from entering the U.S., Empire has been training U.S. Customs agents on the infringement. The Customs facility has now been trained to seize any infringing goods that come into the country. With this added scrutiny in place, any foreign company that seeks to sell knockoffs will have U.S. Customs seize the goods.