• Jan 6, 2009
Mercedes decided to sue Shuanghuan Automotive for copyright infringement for its Bubble microcar (called the Noble in China), claiming it was a copy of the smart fortwo. BMW then decided to bring its own case against Shuanghuan, citing the Shuanghuan CEO as a blatant facsimile of the BMW X5 (that's the CEO on the wall in the above picture). Mercedes got the Bubble banned from display at a couple of auto shows, BMW won its copyright infringement lawsuit in Munich, and Mercedes sued the Bubble's importer, Martin Motors of Italy, to block sales of the car.

It was all looking good... until BMW lost its case in courts in Munich and in China. The Italian court ruled that "consumers could not get confused" when similar vehicles are offered "with a significant price difference." With BMW cold knocked out in the Copyright Cage Match, Mercedes has been left alone in the octagon with Shuanghuan bearing down on it. It also hasn't helped that Italian commentators have already said they don't think the two cars will be confused.

Now Mercedes is looking for an exit. Martin Motors countersued Mercedes for €100,000,000 - around $134.2 million USD - citing potential lost Bubble sales (that's a lotta Bubbles), and Mercedes doesn't want to lose its case and have to fork over colossal damages. Both sides expect the case to be resolved in a couple of weeks, and Bubbles are expected to go on sale this summer.

[Source: Motor Authority]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      @Torrent:
      "Why do people think I mean that in a racist way? I mean really, come on. You think Just because the Chinese automakers get the most lawsuits for copying designs, that I don't like the Chinese? Get real. I don't like the Chinese automakers, because they can't make anything original. I can't stand prejudice, and most of all, the people who instigate it."

      Nobody is trying to instigate anything, you really have to be a moron to think people wouldn't get offended by your statement. Try swapping out Chinese people with any other ethnicity.

      "Those white/black/hispanic's are dogs"

      Try saying something like that or even your original statement in real life and see if you don't catch yourself a broken nose. Don't tell anyone to get real, you need to get a brain.

      @Visnick:
      The truth is your comment probably will change certain people's opinions b/c there are people like that, sad as it is. What you should probably understand is that since your responses are typed, they are easily misinterpreted. A racist joke is a racist joke, and I'm not denying that it doesn't happen but in those same parts there are people of the same ethnicity lobbying to have the practice banned.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As long you are not the one in the Chinese car, you should be OK in a head-on collision involving a Chinese car.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i can't wait to put a deposit down on a felalli enjo complete with kicking donkey badges on the sides. no one would confuse the two, obviously.
      • 6 Years Ago
      @joe23521

      Well I had beer and sausages last night so that would make me a drunk pig.

      There is nothing wrong with joking.
      If my comments (jokes) on a car blog are going to change peoples opinions about a whole group of people then there is something more seriously wrong.

      Lighten up a joke is a joke.

      I don't really think they all eat dogs; after all there is no way they could have enough to feed 1.3 billion people.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Unbelievable that they get to rip off the designs, and then they can sue for losses from lost sales.

      Where is the justice in this world?
      • 6 Years Ago
      The two cars could be easily confused. That is, until you get into an accident, and realize that the Shuanghuan's safety cage is made of melamine and dead babies.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So much for the notion of intellectual property.

      Hate to say it folks, but this is but one of example of a society who only cares about paying the lowest price and could care less about the impact that decision makes. I call it the "Wal-Mart" syndrome.

      "Screw you, just give me my stuff" is the battle cry of our generation.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Intellectual property" (IP) is just a fancy way of saying "idea". Plainly, the Bubble is very strongly influenced by the look of the Smart, but to say it's a direct copy is stretching the point. If its metalwork used structural hardening in the same way as the Smart, if its powertrain was a direct copy, if its electronic features were the same, then maybe there'd be recourse for damages. But as it stands, it's a look-alike, no more; but costing far, far less.

        So, IP is just an idea -- a product is a development of that idea. You're only hurting the originator's business if your product uses their *developments* on the original idea.

        All artists learn very early on a very simple maxim: "ideas are cheap". Designers are artists. Engineers are the ones who take their ideas and make them a reality.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why do people think I mean that in a racist way? I mean really, come on. You think Just because the Chinese automakers get the most lawsuits for copying designs, that I don't like the Chinese? Get real. I don't like the Chinese automakers, because they can't make anything original. I can't stand prejudice, and most of all, the people who instigate it.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It doesn't just "ape" the swoopy side thing. it goes on to mimic the front and rear fenders, the a-pillar, the b-pillar, and the c-pillar and ALL the adjoining window shapes, the top and bottom grill shapes, the swage line, the integrated spoiler, the rear light housing, the hatch shape, even the rim design! don't get me started on the interior...

      It apes the entire essence of the smart car.

      There is a difference between "inspired by" and "stolen from" and this design is clearly the latter.

      While the rest of the world innovates, China regurgitates.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think now is the time I apologize and say I didn't mean it.... Too bad I already did, and people don't see an apology, they just see an opportunity to pick someone apart.

      You need to realize that I admit my comment was racist, but I will also say that it wasn't intentional. Look, I'm a black person with a Muslim name. I know what racism is, and how bad it is. And I also suggest you focus on other things. I've had 3 people overreact to a sentence I said, and I certainly don't need another person to tell me what I should say, what I shouldn't say and how I should look at ethnicity, because I know about that. I experience it first-hand. Live your own life.

      This convo is over.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I am sick of China ripping people off. The UN should enact sanctions. Seriously. If they want to play in the free market its time for China to play fair- stop stealing designs, stop subsidizing gas, etc.
      • 6 Years Ago
      joe23521: Maybe I should have said Chinese Automakers, because that's obviously what I meant.
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