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lol check this article..

MAN, that bus looks familiar

BEIJING - As China's automobile industry rapidly expands, more and more domestic manufacturers are being accused by foreign car makers of copying their car and car-part designs.

In the latest case, German commercial-vehicle manufacturer MAN AG, Europe's third-largest truck maker, announced last Friday that it had filed a lawsuit against Chinese industrial and automotive group Zonda for design patent infringement and damages.

"The Zonda A9 is a copy of the Starliner, a coach developed by
Neoplan Bus GmbH, a subsidiary of MAN AG," the German company said in a statement

The Neoplan Starliner coach was launched at the International Automobile Show in Germany in September 2004, but has so far not been sold in China, said the German company.

"The unique design of the Starliner is protected by international patents and is protected in China by a registered design patent," said the statement.

In its complaint, the German company requested that the court order the defendants to cease manufacturing and selling the Zonda A9 and pay appropriate monetary damages and costs normally granted in such cases internationally.

This action is part of MAN's continuous efforts to protect its intellectual-property rights worldwide, it said in the statement.

MAN said the case, which will be heard in Beijing's No 1 Intermediate People's Court, has received support from third-party advocates including the German Embassy in China, the German Chamber of Commerce in Beijing and a Chinese company, Jinhua Neoplan-Youngman.

The past several years have seen a sharp increase in intellectual-property disputes in China's automobile industry between domestic and foreign manufacturers.

At the end of 2002, Japanese auto maker Toyota filed a lawsuit in Beijing against Geely, a fast-growing domestic automobile manufacturer based in eastern China's Zhejiang province, for trademark infringement and unfair competition.

In the case, the first in China's automobile industry after the nation entered the World Trade Organization, Toyota asked for a total of 14 million yuan (US$1.77 million) in damages, calculating the amount by charging 1% for each of the more than 20,000 cars sold. In addition, Toyota also petitioned to be recognized as a "well-known trademark". But the court did not support any of Toyota's claims.

And in June 2003, General Motors claimed that Chinese firm Chery's QQ model was a copy of its Spark, a model manufactured by GM's South Korean subsidiary GM Daewoo. Chery maintained that there had been no infringement, and said it had obtained 24 patents for the QQ.

GM Daewoo later took legal action against Chery. In December 2004, GM initiated a series of invalidation actions against Chery's design patents. And in May 2005, GM Daewoo filed an unfair-competition lawsuit against Chery in Beijing.

This high-profile dispute was resolved last November when the parties reached a settlement and all claims were withdrawn.

(Asia Pulse/XIC)
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