Kubota initiates lawsuit against Daedong's Kioti Tractors

Tractor manufacturer Kubota Corporation of Osaka, Japan, and its affiliated United States distributor Kubota Tractor Corporation have served a legal complaint upon tractor manufacturer Daedong Industrial Co., Ltd. and its U.S. distributor Daedong -- USA, Inc. d/b/a Kioti Tractors (collectively, "Kioti") charging, among other causes of action, trademark and trade dress infringement and unfair competition. The complaint was filed with the United States District Court in Fresno, Calif., on August 19, 2002. Efforts to resolve the lawsuit prior to formal service on December 4 were unsuccessful.

The lawsuit alleges that Kioti has engaged in trade dress infringement by using Kubota's distinctive orange color, and in some cases Kubota's distinctive hood design as well, on its competing models of tractors. The lawsuit further alleges that Kioti has been responsible for statements indicating a current relationship between Kubota and Kioti with respect to tractors when, in fact, no such current relationship exists.

In the lawsuit, Kubota seeks, among other things, injunctive relief against Kioti's use of the Kubota color and hood design and against false or misleading statements by Kioti. Kubota also seeks monetary damages, including treble damages and punitive damages based on Kioti's allegedly willful and/or intentional misconduct.

Also named as a defendant in the lawsuit is a dealer in California, which, according to Kubota's complaint, is responsible for some of the same conduct as alleged against Kioti.

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