Chinese manufacturers copying products conceived and made elsewhere is not a new phenomenon, nor is it especially uncommon. It was an open secret and has been going on for years, in a number of domains, from golf equipment to watches to handbags… and cars.
The emergence of a Chinese automotive industry in recent years has also led to companies producing vehicles shamelessly identical to models created by others.
One notable practitioner of that dark art is the Jiangling Motor Corporation (JMC), which for the past four years has produced a series of SUVs known under the name Land Wind. One of them, the Land Wind X7, is an identical copy the Range Rover Evoque. One big difference? It sells for $18,000 USD less than the real deal!
Soon after JMC launched that model, Land Rover made a launch of its own – that of a lawsuit alleging intellectual property theft. That was in 2016. Many felt that the British automaker’s chances of prevailing in the suit were slim to none. The laws in place in China notoriously make this kind of legal action very difficult to carry through. And this is what makes the decision by the Beijing Chaoyang district court so significant. The message it sends by finding JMC guilty sends a message that will be heard loud and clear in the Chinese automotive industry, and beyond.
Land Rover’s head of global legal services Keith Benjamin said that the court’s decision will help protect the rights of consumers and ensure they won’t get taken. It will also protect the investments made by manufacturers in the design and creation of vehicle models. According to Jaguar-Land Rover, the decision is a “first in the global car industry.”
As for the Land Wind, JMC was ordered by the court to cease producing, selling and advertising it immediately. It will also have to pay damages to Jaguar-Land Rover, though how much will have to forked over was not divulged.
This court victory by a foreign manufacturer in a Chinese court is sure to pave the way for other legal action by German automakers, most notable. BMW and Porsche, for example, have both had models copied by Chinese manufacturers.
Most brazenly, perhaps, Zotye, another Chinese automaker, makes a virtual clone of the Porsche Macan.