Piaggio wins legal battle against counterfeit Chinese Vespa

Piaggio wins legal battle against counterfeit Chinese Vespa

27th May 2020 1:33 pm

Chinese copy of the Vespa Primavera declared invalid by the European Union Intellectual Property Office.

  • European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) invalidates Chinese company's counterfeit designs

  • Vespa Primavera design registered by the Piaggio group in 2013

  • Invalidity proceedings are part of Piaggio group's ongoing war against counterfeit designs 

The Piaggio Group in a press statement said that a Chinese scooter design, strikingly similar to the Vespa Primavera, has been rejected by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). The action was taken following a formal complaint by the Piaggio Group. Piaggio’s press release doesn’t mention the company by name, but images shared in the press release show that the scooters in question were parked at two stalls in the 2019 EICMA Motor Show, under ‘Dayi Motor’ and Motolux’ branding. However, we have noticed that many products from China often emerge from one large manufacturer, only to be rebadged under different brand names. It’s something we’re seeing more commonly in the two-wheeler EV space in India, where identical EV scooters are sold by two completely different manufacturers

The issue

The invalidity division of the EUIPO annulled the registration of the Chinese company's design as it was “incapable of eliciting a different general impression with respect to the registered design” of the Vespa Primavera, and pointed out that the registration was an unlawful attempt to reproduce the scooter’s aesthetic elements.

The invalidity proceedings are part of the activities against counterfeiting undertaken by the Piaggio Group. This includes continuous monitoring of the databases of internationally registered designs and trademarks. The opposition proceedings, initiated by Piaggio, has led to the cancellation of more than 50 trademarks registered by third parties in the last two years

An iconic design

The Vespa Primavera is protected by the design registered by the Piaggio Group in 2013, by the three-dimensional trademark of the Vespa scooter and by the copyright that “safeguards the artistic value of the shape of the Vespa”. The original Vespa has been around since 1946. Over the years, the Vespa's design has evolved, but at the same time, it sticks to the traditional design ethos that makes it instantly recognisable. 

Nothing new

This isn't the first time that a Chinese company has tried to copy a registered two-wheeler manufacturer's design. Among the many cases, one that sticks out was when the original Bajaj Pulsar's design that was copied by a Chinese company and sold as the Gulsar in Latin America. Bajaj won the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) case against the manufacturer.

However, there seems to be little that deters Chinese companies from copy-pasting designs. You'll find a number of cheap copies of bikes ranging from the Ducati Panigale to the Kawasaki Ninja 300 in China. Some of these designs have also made it to the electric motorcycle/scooter space, with Kawasaki Ninja 300 and 400 rip-offs on open display at EV stands at Auto Expo 2020.

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