China’s Geely denied “its new top-of-the-line car was a copy of a Rolls-Royce, but the world renowned luxury brand said it was keeping its options open about taking legal action,” reports Gasgoo. At the Shanghai Auto Show, Geely showed their Geely GE—an abomination on wheels that looks like a spitting image of a holdover from the stone age, the Rolls Royce Phantom. The story is the talk of blogoville, so we spare you the gory details. Depending on who does the writing and their proficiency in fractional math, the price of the Phantom-twin is either “one sixth lower than” or “one sixth of” the original. Discount Rollers—most likely a reaction to Farago’s article on class warfare.
While “we-are-reviewing-all-our-options” BMW (owner of Roller) is talking to their lawyers, Geely is talking to the press. But not in a smart way.
According to AFP via Gasgoo, “a Geely spokeswoman admitted Friday that there were some similarities but insisted the GE—which stands for “Geely Excellence”—was an original.”
“As it were, they are actually different . . . people may feel they are the same at the first glance, but the details are certainly different,” spokeswoman Zhang Xiaoshu told AFP.
“Feel at the first glance that it’s the same” is a crucial test in intellectual property law. To prove “likelihood of confusion,” costly and complicated studies usually are conducted. In this case, it’s a slam dunk, it’s already admitted. However, if Rolls Royce forgot to register their intellectual property properly in China (a common mistake), they will pound sand as far as China is concerned.
Funny aside: In its first report on the Phantom lookalike, China’s Gasgoo had used uncharacteristically strong language: The Geely “may seem like a Rolls Royce ripoff, but it has one-upped the deluxe brand by featuring just one, throne-like seat,” they wrote. Then: “The Geely GE is expected to be the first major luxury offering from Geely’s elegant sub-brand YingLun, or ENGLON (standing for England London) if it ever goes into production.” And: “Modeled after the Rolls Royce Phantom in a peculiarly Chinese way, the Geely GE even has its own hood ornament.” They even referred to Rolls Royce as a “Roller.” Hmmm. Not the usual reserved writing style of my esteemed colleague George Gao over at Gasgoo. Turns out, the lines were purloined verbatim from a story running the day before in Jalopnik.