Thank you Mr Muamer Hodzic of BenzInsider for the permission to use this picture that compares the Shuanghua Noble (left) and Smart (right)
Shijiazhuang Shuanghuan Automobile Limited Company has stirred a lot of controvery with its model Noble, a mini car very similar to the Smart of Mercedes-Benz (part of Daimler) and with its model called CEO, a SUV very similar to BMW's X5 in the period preceding the Frankfurt Motor Show 2007 from September 13-23.
Mercedes have threatened Martin Motors, the European importer of Shuanghuan. However, Martin Motors assert that the cars will still go on sale as scheduled following a possible launch at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The car is still awaiting EU safety and emission approval.
"The CEO of Martin Motors Guido Martinelli told reporters from Automotive News Europe that Mercedes’ legal team had already sent a letter of complaint to the car’s German importer, China Automobiles Deutschland. “After a preliminary hearing between our lawyers and those from our German distributor, we see no evidence in Mercedes claims. We plan to show the Noble at the IAA in Frankfurt,” he said."
Motor Authority writes that the organiser of the Frankfurt Motor Show has warned that it may have to take action if the suspect car infringed intellectual property rights. If this has happened IP Dragon does not know yet. To be continued.
Read the article about it and see the pictures in Motor Authority here and BenzInsider here and judge for yourself. IP Kat's article has a title that asserts that 'It's Smart to Copy-but is it legal?', read here. In the short run cheap copycat cars may seem smart, although certainly not noble. In the long run it will hamper the competitiveness of Shuanghuan and their ability to develop their own designs and add value, the only way to survive in the global market place.
UPDATE1: IP Dragon called with Mr Mark Loojenga, coordinator of BMW Netherlands. According to Mr Loojenga who is quoting his colleague Mr Andreas Lampka, spokesman of BMW International that BMW is taking judicial steps against Shuanghuan. Whether or not the cars of Shuanghuan that allegedly infringe BMW's intellectual property rights will be available at the Frankfurt Motor Show is not known to IP Dragon yet. To be continued.
UPDATE2: Today, September 11, I talked to the spokesperson for BMW International Mr Andreas Lampka. He confirmed that BMW is taking legal steps against the sale in Europe of the Shuanghuan CEO. Mr. Lampka said that BMW is not taking legal actions focused on getting rid the Shuanghuan CEO being showed at the Frankfurt Motor Show, because BMW is too busy with showing the new BMW models. See a picture of the Shuanghuan CEO at the Frankfurt Motor Show illustrating a NY Times article by Mark Landler here, who was still writing about DaimlerChrysler instead of Daimler as the company that owns Smart. See a picture of the BMW X5 here.