• Apr 23rd 2009 at 12:29PM
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Geely GE Limousine - Click above for a high-res image gallery

Earlier this week, we showed you the first live shots of Chinese automaker Geely's new GE model, a three-seat luxury sedan unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show. With its gigantic, upright waterfall grille, boxy proportions, Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament, and LED starlight headliner, it didn't take an enthusiast's eye to see that Geely is openly aping the Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Understandably, that development hasn't been sitting well with Rolls-Royce officials, who promptly got on the horn to their lawyers after clapping their eyes on the GE. While the British luxury firm has stopped short of saying they intend to sue, according to an article in the U.K. Telegraph, a Rolls-Royce spokesman admits "Rolls-Royce is currently keeping its options open and is in consultation with its legal advisers."

At an estimated £30,000 – around $44k USD – for the GE (versus £250,000/$365k for the Phantom), it could be argued that few are likely to confuse the two vehicles, but even still, critics argue that Roller would appear to have a compelling case that cars like the GE are not only intellectual property theft, but that they could also serve to erode brand equity of the genuine article.

What say you? Drop your fellow reader a line in 'Comments.'

Photos copyright © 2009 IceBin / Weblogs, Inc
[Source: U.K. Telegraph]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      The thing to remember about intellectual property is that trademark is a matter of consumer confusion, not to be confused with the holder's rights interest of copyright or patent.

      There is a long history of allowing high market trademarks to be very similar. Look at car manufacturer's logos. Almost all feature some sort of circle and are very similar.

      The basis of allowing this is always that a car is a well researched investment. The customer will do the leg work before they buy what is normally their second biggest purchase in life. Compare this to buying flour at the grocery store, where the purchase is a pretty grab and go event and you could easily grab the wrong one if they are at all similar.

      We are talking cars here. Nobody is going to go through the process of buying a car (and go through the process of getting a car loan) without being fully aware that this is not a Rolls-Royce.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why does it matter to Rolls Royce in the end?

      I don't see how a poor knockoff could "erode brand equity of the genuine article." If the Geely was a vis-a-vis knockoff in materials, quality, etc but at a truly cut rate, then Rolls would have a solid case. With this Geely being so obviously a cheap imitation however, only a non-enthusiast without means might ever confuse the two - and what bearing do they have on Rolls brand equity at the end of the day?

      Rolls Royce is already a prestigious brand in China, where the Peninsula Hotel in HK famously orders a fleet of the latest Rollers, in a signature dark green. I don't think the owners of the Peninsula or its clientele would ever confuse a Geely for a Phantom, especially once inside.
      • 6 Years Ago
      abcd is just silly troll.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The cheap plastic handles inside probably have 'Made in China' all over them. My bet is they're made alongside little toy cars in a large plants for ultra-cheap plastics.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd be surprised if the story is true. I can't imagine Rolls being that bothered about what is clearly a tongue-in-cheek pastiche which isn't even in the same league as a Rolls Royce ... in price, desirability, and most importantly - target clientele.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As a person of Chinese descent; with my parents living in China (as expats); I can tell you that it's a losing battle to try to fight against a "national champion" in a society with an opaque government and even more opaque justice system. As my parents always say, "In China, only the communist party wins; everyone else loses".
      • 6 Years Ago
      go after them to let them know poor quality will not stand if you copy us
      • 6 Years Ago
      Many people seem to forget that China is RR's largest market in Asia, and even Chinese people will laugh at the idiots who would dare to actually sit in the Geely and pretend it's a RR. We'll never know what the hell Geely was thinking to display that car (it's as if they WANT to be discredited as being a moronic copycat and not much more), but I personally doubt it'll actually sell more than a handful of that...and certainly not in any other market but China domestic market (CDM??? hahaha).
      • 6 Years Ago
      Have you been there? Where do you get the info? CNN? or the impression
      • 6 Years Ago
      Yet another reason we should work with other Governments to punish Communist China for it's blatantly "in your face" trade practices.

      Donde es Sektor?

      Has the great apologist for Our Dear Leader changed his name to ASN....?

      There's NO WAY to defend this crap.
      • 6 Years Ago
      meh. there are so many chinese rip offs its not even funny anymore. What's the point of going after Geely when there's gonna be 2 more rip offs unveiled by the end of the year.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I'd like to think that the invisible hand would crush this piece of sht.

        I'd like to think that no rich man with self respect would be caught dead in one of these - leading the company to end up going bankrupt.

        But then I worry.

        Is it possible enough of these could be sold to keep Geely alive?

        I wish the end of each of these assembly lines had a car crusher.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Chrysler 300 is hardly as blatant of a ripoff of an RR as this Chinese piece of junk. To say otherwise would be a lie. The 300 at least has some American chunkiness to it, as well as other cool styling pieces (SRT-8). Too bad the Chinese didn't all out copy the interior as well and had to put that goofy throne in there.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I hope Rolls Royce sues them and wins. Are the Chinese companies even capable of coming up with a decent design on their own?

        Oh, asng15, please do us all a favor; learn a few grammar rules and better English. Your posts are almost painful to read...
        • 6 Years Ago
        3:15PM (4/23/2009)
        Yeah it might be unfair but unless someone counterfeits your car identically there's no real legal case.

        Take netbook computers for example-all the manufacturers make them with similar proportions and with similar designs, but they can't sue each other because such a lawsuit is unwinnable.

        Like this notebook that looks almost identical to the Macbook Air: http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2009/01/msis-super-thin.html

        And Autoblog is basically making up this nonsense anyway, Rolls clearly isn't considering a lawsuit-all they're saying is that they're speaking to legal since they're legally REQUIRED to protect their own trademarks and copyrights, so if there was an actual case they would have to sue. They obviously said that they're not suing, because it'd just be a huge waste of legal fees to sue a company that doesn't even compete with them. And quite frankly it'd just be free publicity for Geely.

        They'd be doing Geely a favor-Geely could say stuff like "our car was so good that Rolls Royce sued to stop us from making it" since Rolls suing them would actually give them credibility.


        LOL, Come on you don;t say that straightforward . (:
        We got an expert here.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Everyone, let's do a little experiment. Print out that photo that Autoblog used at the beginning of this post, then use a Sharpie to black out the license plate that says Geely GE. Show it to your wife, co-workers, friends, etc, and ask them what they think of the car in the photo. If they think it is a Rolls Royce, then it is copyright infringement right there. We have just established a substantial or striking similarity between the typical Rolls Royce, and the Geely GE.

        A lot of Geely apologists have argued there is no copyright infringement unless the copy is an exact copy. Maybe that's how things work in China, but certainly not in the US. Copyright infringement can occur when there is "substantial similarity" or "striking similarity" between the original and the unauthorized copy.

        Finally, even if it is useless to sue Geely in Chinese courts, Rolls Royce can still sue in US and European courts to prevent Geely GEs from being exported out of China. If a layperson (non car enthusiast) sees a Geely GE in person and mistakes it for a RR, then perceives the poor workmanship to be a trait of RRs in general, that is brand equity damage (and potential sales loss) that can be prevented by an injunction on the Geely's export.

        SUBSTANTIAL SIMILARITY [copyright]. The degree of resemblance between a copyrighted work and a second work that is sufficient to constitute copyright infringement by the second work. Exact word-for-word or line-for-line identity does not define the limits of copyright infringement. U.S. courts have chosen the flexible phrase "substantial similarity" to define that level of similarity that will, together with proof of validity and copying, constitute copyright infringement.

        A court will infer copying by a showing of a "striking similarity" between the copyrighted work and the alleged copy, along with a showing of both access and use of that access.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I don't think it speaks volumes about anything other than RR feels their design got JACKED!
        • 6 Years Ago
        and you still see some id!ots commending about the 'abilities' of chinese auto makers.. this speak volumes of their core principles and values or entrepreneurship
        • 6 Years Ago
        There is no way the RR will win this case, time will see, China is gona be the NO1 luxury automarket in the world, and is still growing with the high speed. Especially after the econmy crisis , a lot of company trying to find the Chinese partner to build cooperatie relationship in oder to catch the next biggest market. there is no way for those mammonist Auto makers to stir up a nest of hornets , otherwise spoil the ship for a halfpennyworth of tar.

        Chrysler 300???
        • 6 Years Ago
        While you are probably correct that the rip-offs are endless, I still have a hard time letting it be ok. We need tougher laws and punishments accross the board for intelectual property. Why shouldn't ones ideas and imagination make them rich? How is a car designer any different from a movie producer or artist?
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is a TRADEMARK issue, not a copyright issue.

      A car isn't a book, a video, a piece of art, a sound recording or a sculpture.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "A car isn't ...a piece of art....a sculpture. "

        Arguably it is. The aesthetics of cars follow the same design process as other arts do. Why else would Industrial Designers, who pen these cars, come from art schools?
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