BMW loses court battle to chinese X5 clone

BMW X5 | December 19th, 2008 by 38

Back in 2007, the Frankfurt Auto Show brought us a legal war between BMW and the chinese carmakers, Shuanghuan. The CEO car built by the …

Back in 2007, the Frankfurt Auto Show brought us a legal war between BMW and the chinese carmakers, Shuanghuan. The CEO car built by the chinese party stired up a lot of controversy due to its X5ish look.

As we mentioned back then, the CEO is almost an identical copy of BMW’s X5 model, and the only reason why it’s “almost identical” is that the SUV’s front end it’s a “clone” of the SUVs found in the Mercedes-Benz’s line.

BMW has immediately filed a lawsuit against them, but last week, an italian court rejected BMW’s claims.

“We are convinced the CEO wasn’t a clone of the X5. We are happy to see our view supported by a court ruling,” said an obviously pleased spokesperson from Martin Motors.

Martin Motors, distributor of Shuanghuan Automobiles in Italy and central Europe, has sold about 200 copies of the CEO and expects to sell about 1200 this year in their European markets. Definitely an important loss for BMW, especially now when they’re hurting financially.

BMW was the second manufacturer to sue Shuanghuan, Mercedes-Benz went after them for their “Noble” model, a Smart fortwo replica.

So, here are some images that I posted in the past, I will let you decide.

[Source: Autoblog and Automotive News subscription required ]

  • Gragop

    How the hell did the Italian courts NOT see this as infringement on BMW’s designs? All Chinese companies do this – they find something someone else did that worked well, rip it off then undercut someone on the price.

    • Oliver Villegas

      mmmm bribes maybe?

  • Lee

    I don’t know… That should be a slam-dunk case.

  • Gil

    Did the judges get paid off or something? About the only thing different is the door handles….

  • Artmic

    China is an evil Communist empire, we should boycott their shitty products.
    Why are we supporting them? We did not support the Russian Communist empire, why are we doing this now… We are all retards for letting our idiotic politicians do that…

    • Anonymous

      well, american people are addicted to Chinese goods, one of the changes would be stop going to walmart where everything is made in china.

    • Random

      Its impossible to boycott china… Its a good idea until you realize that 98% of evertyhing you own is chinese… And none is willing to pay the increased cost of an american to do the same product…

    • Anthony Evans

      So good bye to cheap electronics then

  • Lee

    Not entirely true. The mirrors are slightly different, the wheels are different (although they do look like BMW wheels), the rear window is shaped slightly different and the running boards look like they were stolen straight from a Nissan assembly line.

    The rear end of the SUV, though, has X5 written all over it.

  • Lee

    Talk to me in a few years when our country’s economy implodes and China owns us all. Better start brushing up on your Mandarin…

    • io triomphe

      I’ve seen comments like this a lot. I think what people fail to realize is that China owns lots of U.S. Treasuries. If our economy implodes, we could rationally choose to not pay them back. We still have all the cheap shit they made for us and sold to us for our now-worthless dollars. China will have to do everything in it’s power to keep the U.S. economy just as strong as the chinese economy, or we both will lose.

  • Gragop

    @Lee: @Artmic:

    Agreed. the US economy is boned – we’re a consumer nation and we’re about to pay for it…hardcore.

  • Artmic

    Yeah the way things are going i can see China exploding into a super power, and i just hope the people living in China will also get their freedom…

    But why support one communist regime, while fighting another one(Russia)…

    • Dr. Lecter

      better ask yourself why your country support Saudi Arabia. And try to read books, you will know that Russia isn’t communist country now :). It’s pure capitalism.

  • Artmic

    The only way to save America is to elect a president that will actually be for the people, unlike people like Obama and mcCain, that only server their Corporate and bank interests.

  • roffle waffle

    obviously bribe money was involved

  • Lance

    The CEO is definately inspired by BMW, becasue BMW is the best in this class. But if you look carefully, nothing of the CEO looks identical to the BMW X5. You cannot say that it is a copy. It is inspired by BMW, not a copy. Some proportions of the car is also very much different.

    If you say the CEO is a copy, then what do you say about Audi that blatently copy BMW designs like flaming suface, MMI, etc. As long as it is not identical, it is OK. That’s why people come up with new models all the time. The new X5 is out already…. so what are they worried about.

    In fact, you all may dislike the Chinese car makers now, but gve it 5 years and you’ll see that they will be better than BMW and Audi and Merc. So watch out!

  • Lee

    “but gve it 5 years and you’ll see that they will be better than BMW and Audi and Merc. So watch out!”

    Do you have any logical reasoning to back up this statement?

    • jack

      hey we buy the car its giveing as problem in my cuntry they dont have a cd so theye cant know whats the problem \

  • Gragop


    What’s this commie-auto industry crap talk?! Why the hell would I like ANYTHING over a German(maybe an Italian bull or prancing horse) car?

    The Chinese market is known for ripping off designs of competitors and then marketing it as it’s own. One of the top sales reps in my family’s company is invested in another company that produces a product in China. He was floored when he found that his product designs had been ripped off by a factory that was literally down the street from the one his product was made at in China. What happened? Some guy got fired/quit and went down the street and gave them the design and so they altered it enough to not get sued into the ground the started selling it.

    Frankly, the CEO is complete HORSESHIT as it obviously takes major, MAJOR styling points and designs from BMW and then throws it into the lump of shit.

    As a car enthusiast, this kind of marketing and production is a slap in the face.

  • dmlgc

    “In fact, you all may dislike the Chinese car makers now, but gve it 5 years and you’ll see that they will be better than BMW and Audi and Merc. So watch out!”

    you’ve got to be kidding, you need to lay off the cool aid.

  • miles

    @Lance: you are joking right? i dont see why someone would want a knock off, people know its not real and that ur a poser. but seriously, if people had money, NOONE would buy a stupid chinese knock off.

  • Lee

    Plenty of people would buy a blatant rip-off. It’s nothing new. Look at the guitar wars of a couple decades ago where established guitar companies had to resort to legal action to get Japanese guitar companies to stop copying their designs. Those copies still sold, and sold pretty well regardless of the lack of “Gibson” on the headstock.

    Same goes for the “Rolexes” you can buy from that guy on the street corner.

    And every seedy gas station in the country that sells “Coach” purses…

    Some people want the status that accompanies a high-end product on a Wal-Mart budget (or cheaper). Others understand that status means jack if the product doesn’t have the quality to back it up and refuse to waste their money on poorly-made clones.

    Will the Chinese sell some cars if they set up shop here in the US? Absolutely. Will they be rivals with BMW, Merc and Audi in quality? Absolutely not. Anyone that thinks otherwise is in serious need of a reality check.

  • clara

    You know, a coworker visited a black-market *mall* in china where you could buy exact knockoffs of any brand, including coach.. it’s literally like going to the Coach store in your mall, except everyone is chinese and it’s officially illegal.

    I also know of *another* guitar company who stopped sourcing from japan and went to china, only to discover the design popping up elsewhere.

    There’s countless other examples of this. It’s a big problem in the high-end audio world, where distinctive designs are cloned without any regards to IP, patents, etc.

  • s@sh

    Why did nobody notice that ceo is not copy of X5 but is copy of X3? Hofmeister kink is more gentle on X3 – just like on this ceo. If BMW would compare X3 with ceo they would win the lawsuit

  • Robert Bell

    In order to allege infringement, you have to have some form of intellectual property that you are alleging is infringed.

    Typically this means a Patent, Trademark, or Copyright.

    Since the CEO trademark is nothing like BMW X5, we can toss that right out.

    Copyright is an interesting aspect – are they claiming the exterior shape of the X5 is a sculpture? If so, this would be an interesting claim – and likely not a sucessful one.

    Patent – under traditional utility Patents, this would also not apply.

    Design Patent – called industrial design registration in europe. If BMW did not file for one in ITALY or the EC, then they cannot sue for infringement. This is what may be the case here. Also, Design Patents, at least in the USA are very narrow in scope – copying part (the arse end) may not be enough to find infringment.

    If this was infringment, could the many styling cues of the Z3 be said to infringe earlier cars? It does open a can of worms here.

    If this case were allowed, than what about Mitsubishi’s BMW clones, or the use of Bangle design features by the Koreans? Dos BMW own the Hoffmeister kink? I think not.

    There are other claims, at least in the USA – trade dress, for example. But I am not sure they are allowed in Italy. BMW would have a good trade dress argument here. And no registration is required.

    The upshot is that the “CEO” is a Chinese made piece of crap – and no one is buying many of them. Wanna-be lookalike cars do not scream “quality” but rather “lame-o”.

    It’s like those cheap Rolex knock-offs they sell on the streets of NY for $20. No one, not even for a minute, is fooled by them – even at 20 paces. And you look like a jerk-off if you wear one.


  • Robert Bell

    “I also know of *another* guitar company who stopped sourcing from japan and went to china, only to discover the design popping up elsewhere.”

    And likely they were not “knock-offs” but the real deal.

    I used to work for a sneaker company that used Korean production facilities.

    After filling their sneaker order for the USA, they would keep the assembly line running and make the exact same sneaker (sometimes with cheaper leather) and leave the trademarks off and then sell them in the overseas market.

    In many cases, the copy was exact, because it came off the same assembly line.

    That is the risk of using China or Korea for production. You give them a product design and the know-how and they run with it.

  • Derp

    > How the hell did the Italian courts NOT see this as infringement on BMW’s designs?


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  • Azuris

    The logo on the car is round so that you could replace it with an original bmw logo = ,, A counterfeit? No, never heard of it “

  • iyad

    hhhhmmmm….. you must be nuts to replace a bmw x5 with some chinese junk that will get you killed…. i am sure the dsc will stop functioning as soon as you force the chinese junk into action….

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  • Anthony Evans

    Come on let them sell these fakes in the US lol