JLR wins China design claim as Tesla sues over IP theft

25 March 2019

25 March 2019

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has claimed a first for the global car industry following its triumph in a case put before a court in China.

The manufacturer won its claim against a Chinese carmaker that produced a vehicle that was almost an exact copy of the Range Rover Evoque.

The decision issued by the Beijing Chaoyang District Court decreed that the Evoque has five unique features that were copied directly in the Landwind X7 built by Jiangling Motor Corporation and that the similarity of the two vehicles has led to widespread consumer confusion. The court determined that all sales, manufacturing and marketing of the Landwind vehicle must cease immediately. The Court has also ruled that Jaguar Land Rover be paid compensation.

′We welcome this decision of the Beijing Court, which further strengthens our confidence in investing in China and in the fairness of intellectual property adjudication in the Chinese courts,’ said Keith Benjamin, JLR head of legal. ′This ruling is a clear sign of the law being implemented appropriately to protect consumers and uphold their rights so that they are not confused or misled while protecting business investment in design and innovation.’

Some Chinese car companies are known for their copies of European and US models, with many displayed at international motor events in the country, even drawing the mirth of the press and plenty of column inches. However, with Chinese carmakers looking to push forward in Europe, and many European manufacturers going the other way, JLR’s decision to highlight the copy in court may well signal the end of the practice.

The British-based manufacturer recently announced job losses as sales plummeted during the last twelve months, with its performance in the Chinese market highlighted. Therefore, the company is perhaps more keen than others to protect its intellectual property in the country, although the ruling could open the door for further lawsuits.

Tesla concerns

US electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla has filed a lawsuit against a former engineer at the company, claiming he copied the source code for its Autopilot technology before joining a Chinese self-driving start-up earlier this year.

The former employee copied more than 300,000 files related to Autopilot source code as he prepared to join China’s Xiaopeng Motors Technology Company, the carmaker said in the lawsuit filed in a California court.

In a statement, Xiaopeng spokesperson Marie Cheung said the company was not aware of the engineer’s alleged misconduct and that the company has started an internal investigation on the matter.

The company ′fully respects any third-party’s intellectual property rights and confidential information. The company has been complying and will comply [with] all applicable laws and regulations,’ Cheung said in a statement.