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BMW and Mercedes are thinking about sueing European importers of Shuanghuans clones.
German distributor China Automobile Deutschland plans to exibit Shuanghuan Noble and CEO at Frankfurt Auto Show which starts soon and that upset directors of BMW and MB. Not to mention that announced price of Noble is only 7.000 EUR in Germany...
 

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Despite facing possible suit from Mercedes, EU importer of Shuanghuan is preparing to launch Noble to European market.

The EU importer of the Xiao Gui Zu otherwise known as the Little Nobel, and now simply ‘Bubble’, Martin Motors has put the super mini car on the market in the EU.

Martin Motors appears not to be afraid of the mighty legal hand of Daimler AG, who earlier threatened to sue if the Little Nobel went on sale in their own backyard, hence sales in Germany of the Bubble have yet to commence due to legal wrangling. The 1.1l, 68bhp motor is going on sale in Italy for just 9,000 Euros.
source: China Car Times
 

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Daimler blocks debut of Chinese smart clone

Daimler's not taking the close resemblance of a Chinese minicar to a smart fortwo lightly. The German automaker has gotten a court order forbidding Martin Motors, the European distributor for China's Shuanghuan Automobile, from displaying the Shuanghuan Noble at the upcoming Bologna Auto Show. This is the second time Daimler has blocked the Noble from being displayed, having taken similar action at the Frankfurt show.

Martin Motors is calling the Noble the Bubble in Europe, since there's already another Noble. Martin contends that the Bubble is not a copy of the fortwo, citing the four seats and front engine configuration among the differentiating details. Martin Motors has also demanded in Italian courts that Daimler prove its exclusive rights to the design of the smart. If a resolution can be reached, the Bubble will go on sale for about $10,000 euros across Europe. The resemblance is striking, but copying the look isn't the same as cribbing the underlying engineering. We haven't had the opportunity to crawl over, under, or through the Bubble, so we can't comment on whether it's better or worse than the smart, but from the looks of things in the video we've posted after the jump, the Bubble is hardly a premium vehicle. Shuanghuan also sells the CEO, a midsize SUV that borrows an awful lot from the BMW X5's looks. The appearance similarities between Shuanghuan's vehicles and those of well respected competitors may not help the Chinese automaker avoid having its European sales bubble burst.
source: Autoblog
 

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Daimler on verge of settling Smart ForTwo clone car suit in Europe.

For more than a year now, Mercedes' parent company Daimler has pursued a copyright infringement case against Chinese carmaker Shuanghuan for its Bubble, a blatant knock-off of the Smart ForTwo minicar. A recent holding in a Milanese court has put the German company on the back foot, however, and reports now indicate it is considering settlement to avoid paying huge sums in damages.

The doubt that has crept into Daimler's outlook on the matter comes courtesy of an Italian court's holding on a similar case between BMW and Shuanghuan on the distribution of the CEO, an SUV that bears a striking resemblance to the first-gen BMW X5, essentially allowing Shuanghuan to sell the cars with impunity, and potentially opening BMW to liability for lost sales due to the lawsuit.

The CEO/X5 lawsuit garnered global attention when it broke in 2007, in part because of Shuanghuan's open stance on the matter, essentially saying that copy cars are legal. "Noble and CEO cars, approved by the Chinese government, are legal products," said a company spokesperson. A Munich court even banned the CEO entirely.

In December, 2007, Shuanghuan flouted the ongoing injunction against the Bubble in Italy by displaying the car at the Bologna Motor Show. At the time, things looked bleak for Shuanghuan and the move was viewed as a stunt. In retrospect, it may have been a shrewd business move. Daimler's ForTwo/Bubble suit is before a court in Milan, the same city where the CEO/X5 lawsuit was decided, and so it has been forced to reconsider the strength of its position. What had initially appeared to be a clear-cut case of copyright infringement has now turned about and become a clear loser.

The Milan court's ruling in the case of the Shuanghuan CEO held that it would be impossible for consumers to mistake the Chinese clones for BMW products, reports Automotive News Europe, and that the significant price difference prohibited any real damage to BMW's copyright or trademark, despite the obvious similarity in design.
ercedes decided to sue Shuanghuan Automotive for copyright infringement for its Bubble microcar (called the Noble in China), claiming it was a copy of the smart fortwo. BMW then decided to bring its own case against Shuanghuan, citing the Shuanghuan CEO as a blatant facsimile of the BMW X5 (that's the CEO on the wall in the above picture). Mercedes got the Bubble banned from display at a couple of auto shows, BMW won its copyright infringement lawsuit in Munich, and Mercedes sued the Bubble's importer, Martin Motors of Italy, to block sales of the car.

It was all looking good... until BMW lost its case in courts in Munich and in China. The Italian court ruled that "consumers could not get confused" when similar vehicles are offered "with a significant price difference." With BMW cold knocked out in the Copyright Cage Match, Mercedes has been left alone in the octagon with Shuanghuan bearing down on it. It also hasn't helped that Italian commentators have already said they don't think the two cars will be confused.

Now Mercedes is looking for an exit. Martin Motors countersued Mercedes for €100,000,000 - around $134.2 million USD - citing potential lost Bubble sales (that's a lotta Bubbles), and Mercedes doesn't want to lose its case and have to fork over colossal damages. Both sides expect the case to be resolved in a couple of weeks, and Bubbles are expected to go on sale this summer.
source: Motor Authority, Jan 6th 2009
 
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