China’s herbal tea company, Jiayu, has won a $1m judgement in a US court, alleging it was harmed by US restrictions on sales and imports of herbal teabags.
Jiayu’s founder and chief executive, Li Hui, was the first to buy the company in 2010.
In its complaint, the US District Court for the Northern District of California says it believes the US government was responsible for restricting access to Chinese herbal teabs, including its trademarked product, Jiáng, which is marketed as herbal tea and used for relaxation and pain relief.
The US Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration both have jurisdiction over Jiayus products.
The company says the government should have “correctly enforced” its intellectual property rights.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by a group of consumers and independent sellers in California, Florida, Texas, and New York, alleging that the company and its employees were unlawfully targeted because they did not have enough time to develop Jiáns products before they were subject to import restrictions.
Jiáng has sold in China for more than a decade.
In a statement, Jiays chief executive officer, Li, said his company had a “long-standing policy of providing Chinese herbal medicine to all Chinese citizens”.
“Jiàng is the only herbal tea available in China, and is an integral part of Jiayuan’s brand identity,” Li said.
“Jiujiei has been providing herbal teapigs to consumers for over 25 years.
The Chinese government’s restrictions on herbal teacigs are causing a serious harm to the Chinese herbal industry, which has a lot of value to consumers, especially for the elderly, underweight people and people with chronic illnesses,” he said.”
It is unfortunate that the Chinese government has chosen to put an end to the life-giving benefits of Jiánhas herbal tea to consumers.”
The company’s products are available in Chinese pharmacies and online, but it says it has to abide by the US import restrictions because the company cannot legally sell in the United States.
The case is being closely watched because it comes amid increasing attention to the role of the herbal tea industry in China’s booming manufacturing sector.
China’s booming herbal tea market has become a hot topic in the country after the country banned imports of teabag products in December and began to limit the sale of the products.
The government has banned tea imports from the United Arab Emirates, and the US Food and Pharmaceutical Administration has banned herbal teafakes from import into the country, but China has not prohibited the sale or distribution of the teabagging products.