The latest in the slew of blatant intellectual property infringement by Chinese companies involves the British automaker Land Rover. As Reuters News reports, the Chinese automaker Jiangling Motor has been sued by Land Rover for allegedly copyright infringement in the design of the Land Rover vehicle, Evoque.
This is not the first time a Chinese company has been accused of copying the products or property of another company. China as a country has also often been criticized for disregarding the intellectual property rights. Due to China's weak intellectual property rights protection, it is rarely the case that a foreign company takes it to courts to fight Chinese copycats. Foreign companies often feel that the odds of winning infringement cases in Chinese courts are low. A high profile lawsuit, whether the foreign company wins or loses, could bring bad publicity for the foreign firm as "anti-domestic businesses."
Why then, is Land Rover moving forward with this law suit?
According to the image below from Car News China, we can see that the Land Wind X7 and the Chinese imported version of Range Rover Evoque look almost exactly the same. According to Reuters News, the only way to tell an X7 apart from an Evoque, the missing Range Rover grille, logo and Land Rover badge could be eliminated by purchasing "widely available kits that allow those three items to be put on an X7" on Taobao.com for $19.43.
SIGNIFICANT BUSINESS DAMAGE
Before the unveiling of the X7, the Evoque was enjoying a 36% rise in sales in the January-March period in 2014 when it was launched. However, after the release of the X7, Land Rover's Chinese sales fell by 20%. During the same period, Jiangling's X7 enjoyed great popularity as it sells at around 1/3 of the price of an Evoque.
As of June 21, 2016, China has responded to the suit by canceling the patent owned by both Jiangling Motor and Land Rover. The patents were invalidated by the Chinese Patent Re-Examination Board. Though both sides could appeal the Board's ruling in invalidating the patents, for the time being, the companies would have to proceed with the lawsuit without any valid patents on the design of the vehicles.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR PRODUCTS
As more and more companies try to introduce their products into markets around the world, it is now more important than ever for companies to try and protect their intellectual properties when they enter new markets. Unfortunately, the strength of intellectual property protection around the world is not uniform. Take China, for instance, many copyrights and patents are not recognized and their rights not enforced. This loophole will allow local copycats to produce the same products for a fraction of the cost and become more competitive than the original inventor.
Having intellectual property right protection will allow the company to have more standing when deciding to take the infringement to court. Having intellectual property right protection on your products and your company's branding will also increase the value of your business and allow you to protect your business and your brands. This is why at Wang IP Law Group, P.C., we encourage business owners to preemptively protect their products against infringement so that when something like this happens to them, they know their rights will be protected.
If you have more questions regarding international intellectual property law, schedule a free consultation with our attorneys by calling (888) 827-8880 or email us at [email protected] For more information about the firm and the services please visit www.TheWangIPLaw.com.