BEIJING — A Chinese court has ruled in favor of Jaguar Land Rover and against Jiangling Motor Corp. Jaguar Land Rover, a British division of India’s Tata Motors, sued the Nanchang, Jiangxi, China-based Jiangling for unfair competition in June 2016. JLR accused JMC of copying the design of the Land Rover Evoque for the strikingly similar Landwind X7. The X7 was launched in late 2014, two years after the Evoque.
On Friday, the court ordered Jiangling to immediately halt production of the X7 and compensate Jaguar Land Rover for as yet undetermined losses. In a statement, JLR executives said the court's decision listed “five unique features” copied from the Evoque, likely including its exterior shape and stance and the rearward taper and grooves of its shoulder lines, leading to near-matching taillights.
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.
In a statement, JLR executives called the decision a “first” for a foreign automaker in the world’s largest car market.
“We welcome this decision of the Beijing Court, which further strengthens our confidence in investing in China and in the fairness of intellectual property adjudication in the Chinese courts,” said Keith Benjamin, global head of legal for Jaguar Land Rover. “This ruling is a clear sign of the law being implemented appropriately to protect consumers and uphold their rights so that they are not confused or misled, whilst protecting business investment in design and innovation.”
Sales of Jaguar Land Rover vehicles fell 22% to 115,000 new units in 2018 after three years of growth. Automotive News Europe writer Yang Jian blamed quality control issues that have resulted in the recall of about 70% of the two Land Rover and three Jaguar models built in Changsu, China, as part of a joint venture with Chery Automobile.
“Since August, Jaguar and Land Rover owners have regularly protested in front of JLR’s China headquarters in Shanghai to bring attention to widespread quality problems they allege with their cars and SUVs,” Yang wrote. “Local dealers, burdened with a 60-day or larger supply of unsold new vehicles, have offered steep discounts to ease inventory pressure. Some dealers last year started selling imported Jaguar models at discounts of up to 30%. The move spurred the creation of a catchphrase — ‘Jaguar at 70% price.’”
The next-generation 2019 Land Rover Evoque will make its China debut next month at the Shanghai Motor Show.