Shuanghuan Wins Case Against BMW, Will Continue to Sell CEO SUV in Italy
December 19, 2008
After being banned from selling its CEO SUV in Germany, Chinese automaker Shuanghuan has won its latest court battle against German heavyweight BMW and the with it the right to sell the CEO in Italy, despite its similarities to the BMW X5.
Back in June, Shuanghuan made a bid to be one of the first Chinese automakers to break out of their local market and begin selling cars worldwide. As with many other Chinese automakers, it had some trouble, especially when it got to Germany. There, BMW stood in their way. The Bavarian automaker claimed that Shuanghuan's CEO SUV was a blatant copy of BMW's popular X5 SUV. A German court sided with BMW and forbid Shuanghuan from selling CEOs in Germany.
Undeterred, the company swore to appeal the decision and, in the meantime, moved on to Italy and France. BMW followed, filing the same case in Italian courts. On December 10, the Italians have sided with Shuanghuan, agreeing that, despite the similarities when viewed from the side, the CEO is not a clone of the X5 and therefore does not infringe on BMW's patent.
"We are convinced the CEO wasn't a clone of the X5," said Viviana Martinelli, spokeswoman for Milan-based Martin Motors, which is Shuanghuan's European distributor. "We are happy to see our view supported by a court ruling."
Martin Motors says it has shipped nearly 300 CEOs to its 87 Italian dealers and Italian records show 117 registered so far this year and 65 registered last year. CEOs are also sold in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and the Czech Republic and total sales in those countries are expected to rise from 300 in 2007 to 1,200 this year.
BMW had no comment on the outcome of the Italian court case, but this is unlikely to be the end of the story. Having won in Germany, and facing a constricting SUV market, the German company is likely to continue to fight Shuanghuan in every major market it expands to. Stay tuned.
Source: Automotive News Europe (Subscription Required)