Jaguar Land Rover./. Jiangling Motors

In March 2019, for the first time a case on copycat design was ordered in favor of an overseas manufacturer. Since the rise of the Chinese vehicle-making industry, the nation's home brands have been accused of creating copycat vehicles that are almost like-for-like duplicates of popular models sold by international car-makers. However, local law has traditionally protected these Chinese brands in legal disputes, claiming that the designs are different enough to legally pass as their own models.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), part of Tata Motors Ltd, sued Jiangling Motors Corp. Ltd. (JMC) in 2016, claiming that the X7, launched by JMC a couple years earlier, was too like its own Evoque. The X7 retails for about one-third the Evoque, which currently sells for around 375,800 RMB.

The Beijing Chaoyang district court ruled that the X7 used “five unique features” of the Evoque, and that its similarity had led to widespread consumer confusion. The two sports utility vehicles have a similar shape, with the roof and windows tapering from front to back, and near-identical tail lights and character lines on the side paneling.[1] Conversion kits that include an Evoque-like grille and Land Rover badging are widely available online for less than $20 USD. Jiangling was not accused of producing the kits.

As a result, JMC was ordered to stop the production and marketing immediately and to pay compensation. Now JLR is seeking RMB 1.5m ($223,000) in costs and lost business, a sum that may rise in the future. JMC has 15 days to appeal against the decision.

Chinese news said the decision be a wakeup call for Chinese producers.[2] The judgement shows the new policy direction which is focused on opening China’s automobile industry to foreign investment. With this comes a more stringent approach to protect intellectual property rights.

Despite widespread and often blatant copying, global automakers generally don't take legal action in China as they feel the odds of winning against local firms are low. The negative side of the coin is, that the new Range Rover Evoque was launched in China one month after this decision!


[1] Jaguar Land Rover Wins Case Against Jiangling Motors in China, Times Live, by Reuters,

[2] Jaguar Land Rover Wins Case Against Chinese Copycat — in China, Liu Yukun and David Kirton , Caixin online,