But BMW had a real problem with that…
While a lot of people are shocked a Chinese company straight-up ripped off the design of the classic Mini Cooper, we’ve seen this trick many times before. After all, Chinese companies have tried replicating the C1 Corvette, Range Rover Evoque, and a number of other foreign-designed vehicles over the years. However, for the most part they’ve gotten away with ripping off intellectual property, only this time BMW took a stand.
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The Chinese company, called Beijing Estek Technology, spilled the beans on its plans when last year it submitted patent drawings to China’s State Intellectual Property Office. Those renderings looked almost exactly like the classic Mini so many love and just about everyone can identify, even non-car people.
Thanks to BMW’s legal action, Beijing Estek Technology was denied permission to use the classic Mini design. Sometimes it pays to take a stand, although it remains to be seen if BMW will deal with any repercussions.
The Chinese copycat car was to be an EV and probably a crappy one. The electric motor was to be housed under the hood and the fuel filler cap was even retained from the old design, probably with a plug underneath.
It was May of last year when this news rippled through the automotive media. In July BMW filed a request to invalidate the patent application, seeking to head Beijing Estek Technology off at the pass. Too often, automakers have backed down when Chinese companies blatantly rip off their designs since it can be difficult to win such cases in the country’s legal system.
Even if an automaker wins such a legal battle, there are other pitfalls. For example, back in 2019 Jaguar Land Rover won a case against a Chinese automaker which made an SUV virtually identical to the Range Rover Evoque, even being rewarded monetary compensation as damages. However, the company faced some public backlash as Chinese citizens perceived the foreign company as acting like a bully.
Sources: Hindustan Times, Drive