It's been a long time coming.
Intellectual property laws have been a joke in China for many years, as evidenced by the collection of knock off cars, luxury items, and even fake stores that dot the country. Companies like Jaguar Land Rover have tried for years to get the Chinese authorities to crack down on this practice, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Shanghai Daily begs to differ though because just today it announced that the Shanghai Intellectual Property Court is demanding that two companies pay BMW for the blatant use of its brand to sell products.
The owner of Deguo Baoma Group (which literally translates to German BMW Group), Zhou Leqin, is also being asked to pay up for a trademark he purchased and registered in July of 2008. His trademarked name is “BMN,” which, while not the same as BMW, is seen on a logo that closely resembles the blue and white roundel that we’ve become accustomed to. Leqin then authorized the logo to another fashion company called Chuangjia, the second organization accused of intellectual property theft, where it was used on shoes, handbags, and clothes. The fine isn’t being set too high at 3 million Yuan (about $432,000), but the implications of the ruling are what matters most here.
It proves that Chinese authorities are finally starting to take patent infringements seriously, which could deter other companies from copying designs and products in the future. For now, the ruling affects the blatant rip off of a single logo, but could aid companies like JRL fighting to punish Chinese automaker LandWind (even that name is only one word off from “Land Rover”) for making an obvious copy of the Range Rover Evoque. Even a new automaker like Tesla hasn’t been safe from product copying, and that’s a serious problem given that the markups for imported cars mean that buyers in the world’s largest auto market could be incentivized into buying knock offs. Thankfully we can now add a tally to the “Justice” side of the scoreboard.