Grand Theft Auto: Even the Ripoff Report is a Ripoff
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.
Potemkin on Apr 26, 2009
China knows it owns the West and the West will do nothing to stop the flow of Chinese money so nothing will come of these copyright cases. If you need proof of this fear of Chinese financial might look at the waek US reaction to the Chinese military hacking the Pentagon and spying all over the US.
Lokkii on Apr 26, 2009
You can make excuses that 'legalize' the theft of intellectual property in China, but it's a serious problem and until recently the Chinese courts have done little about it. That finally seems to be changing but there is still no rule of law in China that consistently protects foreign designs yet... Here are some examples of court cases that involve design theft by Chinese companies. http://www.chinacarforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1370 In a major victory for Indian automobile industry, Bajaj Auto Ltd (BAL) has been able to stop the import, marketing and sale of the copied version of its premium bike Pulsar in Sri Lanka. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_06/b3919010_mz001.htm GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co., the Korean subsidiary of GM, says the QQ is a knockoff of its own Matiz minicar, sold in China as the Chevrolet Spark since 2003. "The cars are more than similar," says Rob Leggat, vice-president for corporate affairs at GM Daewoo. "It really approaches being an exact copy. http://www.nextautos.com/german-court-sends-chinese-x5-replica-packing The Munich court ruled that the Shuanghuan SUV too closely resembles the BMW X5, and that the Chinese company is infringing on BMW’s design rights. BMW started legal proceedings last September to stop CEO sales. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2004/12/25/2003216700 Honda Motor Co, the world's biggest maker of motorcycles, won a court ruling stopping a Chinese company from selling Hongda brand motorbikes, adding to signs China is getting tougher on intellectual property theft. http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2009/01/21/377745.html Shanghai, January 21, 2009: (Gasgoo.com) Chinese bus-maker Zhongwei Bus & Coach Group has failed in a patent infringement lawsuit and is asked to pay more than 20 million yuan ($2.93 million) as compensation for Neoplan Bus GmbH, a subsidiary of Man Group, a Beijing-based newspaper reported Wednesday. http://science.thomsonreuters.com/news/2005-08/8283393/ Between the year 2000 and November 2004, Chinese courts on a nationwide basis made rulings in 2171 cases of illegal production; 1948 Chinese individuals were charged with infringement offences during the first trial
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