LAND Rover is suing a Chinese carmaker over a copycat version of its style-driven Range Rover Evoque compact SUV, the British company says.
The move comes after Jaguar Land Rover, the Indian-owned British luxury marque, filed trademarks in Australia that protect the design of the Evoque, effectively blocking Chinese carmaker Jiangling from ever selling its version of the SUV – the Land Wind X7 – here.
Reuters reported that Jaguar Land Rover had "served Jiangling with newly filed actions surrounding copyright and unfair competition", and aimed to block sales of the Evoque knock-off via the Chinese courts.
JLR added the Evoque to Chinese showrooms last year in an attempt to tap into one of the fastest growing new car markets globally. In contrast, the Land Wind X7 was launched in China in late 2014.
The similarities between the vehicles were so close that Land Wind owners can reportedly buy Evoque grilles and Range Rover badges, and fit them to their vehicles.
However, JLR has since updated the Evoque for 2016, introducing subtle styling differences that make it stand out from the Jiangling version of the car.
The Chinese car industry has a long history of seeking inspiration from other car brands, producing vehicles that were little more than clumsy clones of strong-selling foreign models.
Jaguar Land Rover is not the first carmaker to try and block sales of a blatant rip-off.
More than a decade ago, Honda sued Hebei Shuanghuan Auto Co. over a copy of its CR-V compact SUV that surfaced in China in 2004. The Chinese knock-off sold for a third of the price of the Honda-badged car.
Honda eventually won the court case – after a 12-year fight.
Likewise, BMW successfully blocked the sale of the Shuanghuan Auto CEO in Germany after arguing it was a blatant rip-off of the German luxury brand’s X5 mid-size SUV.
Other vehicles that have spawned Chinese spin-offs include the Mini Cooper, Smart ForTwo, Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Macan, Lexus RX, Jeep Cherokee, Volkswagen Amarok, and even the Rolls-Royce Phantom.