China: Winterkorn Will "Not Tolerate" Purloined Patents
Tomorrow, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn will be at a groundbreaking in the Chinese port city of Tianjin, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese dignitaries in attendance. A plant for high tech DSG transmissions is being built there, using technology that is in high demand in China. So high is the demand that joint venture partner FAW has, according to recent media reports, “systematically and repeatedly” stolen designs of important components such as engines and transmissions.
“Rest assured that we will protect our intellectual property with all rigor, also in China,” Winterkorn said in an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt today. The same paper had broken the delicate story a month ago.
Winterkorn signaled that the secrets are safe in Tianjin. This factory is fully owned by Volkswagen. Companies that assemble cars need a joint venture, companies that make part don’t. “The concerned factories of FAW are all in Changchun,” Winterkorn said. Changchun and Tianjin are 530 miles apart as the plane flies, and Winterkorn intimates that FAW won’t be invited soon.
“We’re looking at this very closely and will examine things on site,” said Winterkorn. “If there are open questions, then we will talk with our partners and most assuredly, we will not tolerate this.”
Of course, there also is an Airbus factory in Tianjin, and Frau Merkel needs China to fix the financial mess in Europe. Political expediency will prevail.
If you don't want the Chinese to steal your IP don't sell the product there and certainly don't make it there. At this point the cat's already out of the bag, VW may as well start designing the DSG's successor. And with VW's dependency on the Chinese market for its revenue, the Chinese could admit it bluntly to Winterkorn's face. He knows that beyond protesting vehemently he isn't going to do a damn thing about it.
So, if FAW stole VW's design and the government rules in their favor, what then for VW? Will they break their joint venture? Pull out of China? Not likely. When the push comes to shove, VW will find that they have very little recourse indeed.
So then,I take it everyone is up for a viewing of "Ai Weiwei,Never Sorry"?
Somehow I feel that Volkswagen has more to lose than FAW. Either way, who knows? Maybe their security is as good as they feel it is.