Jaguar Land Rover has filed to sue Chinese automaker Jiangling Motors over its “Landwind X7” model, which bears an uncanny resemblance to JLR’s own Land Rover Evoque. The Evoque was already being sold in China when the Landwind styling was revealed. Now, JLR is producing Evoques in China.
The suit alleges that Landwind directly copied the Evoque. Such moves by a foreign automaker are rare in China, the world's biggest automotive market.
A unnamed JLR spokesman said that a court in the Chaoyang district of eastern Beijing "served Jiangling with newly filed actions surrounding copyright and unfair competition."
Landwind has not made any public statement regarding the case. It is customary in similar cases for Chinese manufacturers to suggest that their imitations of successful products are more out of flattery than an attempt to divert customer interest to their own products.
Somewhat surprisingly, most automakers typically don’t take legal action in China, since the perception is that the chance of success is low and that it may be damaging to their brand image among the Chinese public.
If JLR does win its case, it could prompt other automakers to take legal action, and perhaps bring about change in the way China enforces intellectual property rights.
The Landwind X7 was revealed at the end of 2014, drawing much derision in the automotive press for its unequivocal similarity to the Evoque. There are now even kits available that can quickly transform an X7 by allowing a Range Rover grille, logo and Land Rover badges to be put on. The kits are available for less than $20 US.
The X7 costs around a third of the price of an Evoque, and underneath the sheet metal, there is no comparison to the real thing. According to the JLR source, Jiangling has already been barred by court order from selling the X7 in Brazil.
Don’t expect a quick resolution to this case. A similar lawsuit some years ago by Honda took 12 years to resolve. In that instance, the Japanese firm won only about 5% of the compensation it sought.
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