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18. October 2007

Daimler, Fiat file suit against Chinese car manufacturers

European car giants Daimler and Fiat have launched legal proceedings against Chinese manufacturers amid a growing copyright row, the Automotive News Europe magazine said.

Daimler of Germany is attempting to block the sale of the Noble produced by Shuanghuan, a small car that Daimler says is strikingly similar to the Smart Fortwo it produces, the report said.

Shuanghuan decided not to exhibit the Noble at the prestigious Frankfurt International Motor Show last month after legal threats from Daimler.

Fiat meanwhile has launched legal proceedings in Italy and China against the Great Wall Motor Co, arguing that its Peri model resembles the highly popular Fiat Panda.

"We are expecting the first court hearings in China in December and in Turin for the European case towards the end of January," Monica Norgi, legal advisor to Fiat, told the magazine.

German luxury carmaker BMW launched legal proceedings in Munich last month against Shuanghuan's European importer China Automobile Deutschland in a bid to prevent the sale of the CEO, a Chinese-built version of the X5, a 4x4 model that BMW stopped making last year.

Japanese giant Toyota has failed however in a bid to prevent Shuanghuan from selling the UFO, which is highly similar to Toyota's Rav4 model, "because its models are not protected by any patents in Europe," the magazine said. The UFO retails for around 16,000 euros (US$22,700) compared with 26,200 euros for the Rav4.

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