Chinese firm wins condom battle against Japanese Okamoto

A condom maker in South China's Guangdong province has won a lawsuit against a Japanese company over its competing claim to be manufacturer of the world's thinnest prophylactic. The Guangzhou Yuexiu District People's Court pronounced on Monday that Tokyo-based condom brand Okamoto used unfair practices to compete against Guangzhou Daming United Rubber Products.

Guinness World Records verified the Chinese company's Aoni condom, which has an average thickness of 0.036 mm, as the world's thinnest in December 2013 - breaking the previous record of 0.038 mm set by Okamoto in 2012.

But Guangzhou Daming United Rubber Products said it found Okamoto's condoms still on sale bearing phrases such as "world's thinnest" and "Guinness World Record" in May 2014.

A lawsuit was filed in September 2014 by the Chinese company against its Japanese counterpart, citing false advertising and seeking 1 yuan ($0.15) as compensation for economic loss.

The court held that Okamoto knew about the verified world record and ordered it to stop selling condoms bearing false advertising and pay the compensation.

The small amount of compensation claimed has led to speculation that the Guangzhou-based condom maker sued the famous Japanese brand as a publicity stunt.

Some netizens on Sina Weibo even claimed that they had only heard about the Chinese condom brand because of the lawsuit.

Yoshiyuki Okamoto, president of the Japanese condom company, also viewed the legal challenge as self-promotional and described the legal battle as "primitive", according to a report in the Financial Times.

Guangzhou Daming United Rubber Products has denied the claims.

"We sued Okamoto intending to stop their act of infringement. We decided to demand compensation of only 1 yuan, a nominal amount, because we didn't want the proceedings to get stuck on the matter of economic losses," Victor Chan, general manager of the Chinese condom company, told China Daily on Tuesday.

Calling Okamoto "a shameless competitor", Chan said the Japanese company continued to claim it was the manufacturer of the world's thinnest condom to "take advantage of their popularity in China and of Chinese consumers' trust in their brand".