The importers of the Chinese Shuanghuan CEO sports utility vehicle that is similar to a model made by Germany's BMW must halt all sales and destroy all its vehicles in Germany, a court in Munich ruled Friday.
Too close for comfort, said a German court
The court ordered the importers, China Automobile, to pay compensatory damages to BMW, which is based in Munich.
BMW alleges that the Shuanghuan CEO closely resembles its X5.
"We are pleased that the court has agreed with our views," a BMW spokesman said after the ruling.
Karl Schloessl of China Automobile Germany said he would launch an appeal against the ruling, which is not yet binding, saying he was prepared to take the case to the European Court of Justice.
It was impossible to ban a vehicle in Germany that was allowed to be on the road in the rest of Europe, Schloessl said, adding that there were more than 1,000 Shuanghuan CEOs on the road in Italy.
Schloessl added that the ruling was based on similarities to the BMW X5 dating back to 1998, describing it as "a very old car." He said the appearance of the vehicle could easily be altered by changing "five or six elements."
BMW has not made clear whether it will seek the compensatory damages awarded by the court.
Criticism over copies
Chinese copies are not at all limited to cars
In the face of protests from German manufacturers, Shuanghuan withdrew its CEO from the Frankfurt IAA international motor show held in September last year.
While on a visit to China in August last year, Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized Chinese carmakers for blatant copies of German makes.
Apart from the CEO, Shuanghuan has drawn criticism for its Nobel, which bears a resemblance to Daimler's Smart, an ultra-compact two-seater.