Small Chinese automakers have developed the nasty habit of cloning the design and styling of successful European automobiles and placing that bodywork atop vastly inferior hardware. Although it doesn't seem right, there may be little that automakers like BMW and Daimler can do about it. Evidence of such can be seen in recent court cases, one of which was lost by a certain Bavarian automaker that sued to stop the European importation of a Chinese SUV with an eerie similarity to its own X5. Now that BMW has lost that case, Daimler's lawyers have reportedly attempted to settle the case with Martin Motors, which is the European importer for the Shuanghuan Bubble. That diminutive machine looks a great deal like the smart fortwo, but it may still go on sale in Europe sometime this month.

Currently, the Bubble is not allowed to be sold in Europe and the first few machines that were imported were detained in customs. If Daimler were to lose the lawsuit, it may be liable for damages to Martin Motors. Sure, it seems odd to us, but apparently the price - and likely quality - of the Bubble is so low that lawmakers believe there's no conflict, regardless of the value of intellectual property.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]

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