Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but in racing, where something as simple as a car's shape can lead to a competitive advantage, imitation can be a big no-no. That reality is being played out right now, with the DeltaWing prototype and the Nissan ZEOD RC. The two cars, as you can see from the images above, bear a striking resemblance to each other. They're so similar, in fact, that Dr. Don Panoz, one of the big names behind the DeltaWing program, is assigning some legal eagles to investigate any patent infringement.

The similarity shouldn't be a shock, though. Both cars are penned by Ben Bowlby, and the DeltaWing - which will be arriving as a coupe in the very near future – had Nissan branding and power for a not-insignificant amount of time. But for Panoz, the ZEOD RC's resemblance is just a bit too much, as he told Autoweek, "It's been interesting to watch people from Nissan trying to dodge the question, but the fact is that in their own press release they admit that the configuration of the ZEOD is the same as the DeltaWing. And we do have patents, in fact another one was just issued last week. We are in discussions with our legal advisors and we'll see what happens."

Frankly, it's not difficult to see what Panoz means. The general shape of the ZEOD RC, with its wide rear track and narrow front track arrangement – not to mention the headlights mounted over the rear wheel arches and any arrangements not visible under the body - are so reminiscent of the DeltaWing that differences like the shape of its closed cockpit and more upright front end might not prove different enough to avert Panoz's legal action. We'll stay with this one and let you know as more becomes available.


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  • 41 Comments
      Jim1961
      • 1 Year Ago
      I didn't know it was possible to patent a "general shape". From now on, I'm going to demand royalties from people who are about six feet tall.
      INCREDIBLE ONE
      • 1 Year Ago
      The general shape of ever LMP car out there is basically the same. Every F1 car has the same basic shape. Sorry Donnie boy i do not think you have a leg to stand on. Wheel base and track are not patentable.
      Dave D
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why does the patent office issue patents on things that have been done before or that are obvious? There are PLENTY of cars that have been used at Bonneville and even three wheel vehicles that are street legal on the roads for years. When are we going to get our patent office under control? Placing wheels in a certain arrangement should NOT be a patent-able idea. Creating Mr. Fusion...now THAT is something that deserves a patent. Coming up with a new drive that lets us reach the stars, now THAT is something that deserves a patent. Swinging on a swing sideways? NO! (http://www.google.co.uk/patents/US6368227) Changing the placement of wheels on a car? NO! We need to clean this sh*t up.
        Armon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Dave D
        Have you read the patents relevant to this article? How do you even know what they cover? If you know them, post up the patent numbers so we can take a look. Otherwise your rant seems to be based on your own imagination.
          Dave D
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Armon
          Actually, I've been trying to search for them and can't find them. Not sure what I'm missing as I can usually find something as long as I know it's there. But considering that the USPTO gives out such silly patents as I mentioned above, and they let Apple patent a shape (rounded corners on a rectangle) used on every tablet since Babylonian times (seriously, google any picture of a tablet from even ancient history and they knew that rounded corners didn't break as often and therefore used them on EVERYTHING they made). It doesn't take much intelligence to know there is a good likely-hood that they are bogus patents.
      8LiterHemiV8
      • 1 Year Ago
      Im siding with Panoz on this one. Why did Nissan dump the Deltawing only to build another Deltawing?
        Dave D
        • 1 Year Ago
        @8LiterHemiV8
        Because they wanted to go EV and Panoz did not. Unless he's changed drastically, he's not high on EV at all and was investing big time in algae to bio-diesel the last time I talked with the Panoz family a couple of years ago. His son Dan was running the show on the auto side back then and was very innovative towards hybrids and even raced one at Le Mans in partnership with Zytek back in like 2007 or something. But he was not into the full EV because he LOVED big V8's more than life itself and his dad was, again, into the bio-diesel.
      Malcolm
      • 1 Year Ago
      more pointless patent trolling lawsuits.. wasting taxpayer dollars and tying up courts with BS.. only in 'murica where the majority of people are ******* idiots and those with intelligence are the minority and shunned for it.
      Autoblogist
      • 1 Year Ago
      The exterior design is different enough. I don't think Panoz has a case there. Unless the hold patents for the layout under the skin and Nissan is indeed using that same design. Wheelbase and width can't be patented. At least I don't think it can.
        rsxvue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Autoblogist
        Well the first time I saw the Nissan I immediately thought Deltawing and I'm sure I wasn't the only one.
      David
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good news is, the Delta Wing looks better than Nissan's concept. But I'd rather not see any of them on the track.
      chrismcfreely
      • 1 Year Ago
      I always thought the original one was Nissan's project. This sounds like patent trolling.
        ijardine
        • 1 Year Ago
        @chrismcfreely
        David Bowlby penned the original design with financial backing from Chip Ganassi starting 2009 as a project to become the basis of the Indycar series from 2012. The design was seriously considered by Indycar but they decided it was too radical for an OW series. Enter Dr Don Panoz who picked up the design and headed up a team to make an entrance in LeMans style racing (Panoz owned ALMS series). During tis latter development an agreement was reached with Nissan for them to provide the engine/powertrain and in this form it even ran in the LM 24 hours and several ALMS races. The ALMS/LM effort was run by Panoz directly while the early development work was done by All American racers. In 2012 the engine program switched from Nissan to Mazda and moved from P2 to P1 category. In short Nissan did none of the original design work and entered as the engine manufacturer for one season. Who owns the rights to the design? Clearly Bowlby did the original designing funded by Ganassi. Then Panoz took over the whole project. Can Nissan make a complete copy and what role did Bowlby play and does play in Nissan's effort? It is unusual for car designers to retain the rights to their machines as they are funded by others as was the case with the Deltawing. I would think that Nissan is on shaky ground here both legally and morally if they have not reached an agreement with whosoever owns the design rights.
      Local Tut FordDude
      • 1 Year Ago
      Asians are famous for not respecting patents
        Malcolm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Local Tut FordDude
        and inbred hicks like you are famous for talking **** and ******* your mother.
      edward.stallings
      • 1 Year Ago
      The ambiguously gay duo should sue them both!
        Jim1961
        • 1 Year Ago
        @edward.stallings
        The ambiguously gay duo should sue them for being so gay!
        Jim1961
        • 1 Year Ago
        @edward.stallings
        It just occurred to me the "general shape" they're suing over is the general shape of my wiener!
      David Monagle
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wasn't the deltawing originally a Nissan? So they are suing the company who designed their car in the first place?
      Fernando Moutinho
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm terribly sorry, but I find this ridiculous. As far as I know, both cars are Nissan's. And the moment the Deltawing raced under the name of Nissan, it instantly became a Nissan, regardless of who designed it. This is just childish.
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