When it was launched at the 2015 Guangzhou motor show, the Landwind X7 was accused of blatantly copying the Evoque and kickstarted an intense legal dispute between Jaguar Land Rover and Jiangling Motors.
The copycat (just look at it…) was unveiled just as JRL launched a Chinese-made Evoque in collaboration with car manufacturer Chery. Soon after, Land Rover took legal action against Landwind and its parent company, but its complaints were dismissed by the Chinese authorities – to which it responded by filing new legal actions.
Now, according to The Financial Times, the local authorities have decided to cancel both companies’ patents, designating the Evoque’s and X7’s exterior design filed patents as “invalid” by the State Intellectual Property Office at the beginning of this month.
This was central to JLR’s lawsuit against Jiangling for copyright infringement and unfair competition, putting the British car maker on a difficult legal footing. Once patents are invalidated, lawsuits based on external design often come down to a question of “consumer confusion”. “It starts to get very subjective”, explained Matthew Murphy, a partner at law firm MMLC Group.
In Land Rover’s case, the patents were cancelled on grounds that the Evoque’s design was put on public display a year before the patent was filed. The board also chose to invalidate Jiangling’s Landwind X7 saying that it strongly resembled the Evoque.
Both car makers could appeal the board’s ruling on the validity of the patents, but JRL is still continuing with litigation against Jiangling Motors. It could argue that Jiangling is competing unfairly by confusing customers or that the Evoque’s design is automatically protected under copyright law as a piece of music or other creative work would be, according to Chen Jihong, a Beijing-based intellectual property lawyer at Zhong Lun Law Firm.
Given how the Chinese protect their own automakers, we wouldn’t expect anything to come out of it though.
via Automotive News