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Zonda loses case to German company
By Li Aoxue (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-01-22 07:43

German bus and coach manufactuer Neoplan Bus GmbH has won an intellectual property lawsuit against a local automotive firm, a court said yesterday.

The Beijing No 1 intermediate people's court, where the case was heard, ruled automotive group Zonda and its subsidiary Yancheng Zhongwei Passenger Coach Co Ltd and Beijing Zhongtong Xinhua Automobile Sales Company to pay 21 million yuan ($3 million) to Neoplan Bus GmbH.

The German firm had filed the lawsuit in 2006, accusing Zonda of copying Neoplan's "Starliner" coach to make its "A9" model.

Besides ordering the three Chinese companies to compensate Neoplan for "patent infringement", the court ordered Zonda to stop manufacturing the pirated bus model and banned its sales, a release said.

"Zonda could not provide enough evidence to prove that the Zonda A9 is a result of their own research," it said.

Neoplan applied patent for its Starliner coach in China in 2004, the company said.

There has been a sharp increase in the number of IPR disputes between domestic and foreign automobile manufacturers over the past few years.

In 2002, Japanese automaker Toyota filed a lawsuit in Beijing against Geely, a domestic automobile manufacturer, based in Zhejiang province, for trademark infringement and unfair competition.

Toyota asked for 14 million yuan ($1.77 million) in damages, calculating the amount by charging 1 percent for each of the over 20,000 cars sold. But the court did not support any of Toyota's claims.

(China Daily 01/22/2009 page4)