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German Bus Maker Prevails in Beijing Court

Issued: March 01 2009
A Chinese court has awarded German bus maker Neoplan Bus Rmb20 million (US$2.9 million) in compensation for design violation following two years of litigation.

The First Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing ruled Jiangsu province based Zhongwei Passenger Bus, its parent, Zhongda Group, and Beijing Zhongtong Xinghua Auto Sales had copied Neoplan’s Starliner bus. The court awarded Neoplan Rmb1.16 million in costs.

“The Zonda A9 is a copy of the Starliner, a coach developed by Neoplan Bus GmbH, a subsidiary of MAN AG,” the German company said in a statement issued in 2006, when the suit was brought. The Neoplan Starliner coach was launched at the International Automobile Show in Germany in September 2004.

In a statement released by the court, it said it had ruled that the alleged infringers failed to prove they had independently created the A9 bus or that they had a prior right to use it even though the company had obtained a design patent for the bus.

Foreign automobile manufacturers have had little luck in previous design infringement suits against Chinese auto makers. Italian auto maker Fiat lost its suit against Great Wall Motor Company for infringement against its Panda model design patent when a Hebei province high court upheld a lower court’s decision rejecting Fiat’s infringement claim. Toyota and General Motors have also lost infringement claims in recent years.


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