Some of China’s businesses have been notorious in copying and selling high end Western products at cheap prices. Stern action against counterfeiters was not so common, but when a high profile brand like BMW files a case related to trademark infringement or copyright issues, ripples are bound to be made. In the past lawsuits against Chinese companies that have obviously copied a Western design were frequently hrown out.
The owners of Chinese fashion brand BMN, whose logo is strikingly similar to the German premium automaker have realised it the hard way. BMN has been ordered to pay out after a court in Shanghai has ruled in favour of BMW in a case against two Chinese companies that registered trademarks very similar to its own. The Shanghai Intellectual Property Court said a certain Zhou Legin had registered the company Deguo Baoma Group (Int’l) Holdings Limited in China back in 2008. That name translates as German BMW Group (Int’l) Holdings Limited. Through the company, Zhou then bought and registered the trademark “BMN”, and a logo similar to BMW’s iconic black and white “propeller” badge.
The defendants have been ordered to pay compensation of US$431,738) to BMW. Recently, Jaguar Land Rover launched a lawsuit against Chinese automaker Jiangling Motor whose Land Wind X7 SUV was a blatant rip-off of the Range Rover Evoque.
Just a few years ago, the impression of China to the outside world was something like this: in China they don’t just counterfeit devices, they counterfeit entire shops – a knock-off Apple store was closed down in 2015. Many countries viewed China as the world’s shameless imitator. China has long had no more than a passing relationship with international copyright law. However, that is beginning to change as at the 2017 CES, the US’s biggest trade show, Chinese companies could be found competing not only on price, but on fantastic ideas and design.