Clone China

This is an interesting development:

Jaguar Land Rover has won a legal case to prevent a Chinese car brand from selling a copycat vehicle, ending a three-year court battle. In 2016 the UK-based carmaker sued Jiangling Motor Corporation for its Landwind X7 sport utility vehicle, which the company claimed bore extremely similar resemblance to the Range Rover Evoque. On Friday the Beijing Chaoyang District Court ruled that five major features of the car were copied, and ordered Jiangling to cease production, sales and marketing of the vehicle.

Several international carmakers have complained about local brands copying their designs, but the case is the first time that a Chinese court has ruled in favour of an overseas manufacturer over a Chinese carmaker.

For all the talk about China taking over the world in terms of technology, while their progress is based largely on ripping off other people’s designs to produce versions of inferior quality it’s difficult to see how. If China does start to innovate, one of the biggest problems they’ll face is stopping others copying their intellectual property as they have done. Perhaps this latest ruling is a sign the Chinese are becoming aware of this, but I expect they’re going to find abandoning that business model is a lot harder than adopting it.

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11 thoughts on “Clone China

  1. The playing field isn’t level because IP protection is strong in the West and, well if you see it in China take a photo for me please.
    The Fun will begin when China climbs a few more rungs on the innovation ladder, starts (perforce) IP protection and finds all the Chinese firms suing each other.

  2. “If China does start to innovate, one of the biggest problems they’ll face is stopping others copying their intellectual property as they have done. Perhaps this latest ruling is a sign the Chinese are becoming aware of this”

    Exactly the argument I’ve used. Getting rich is, in this modern world, the creation of intellecual property.Poor places that get rich will therefore start to protect the IP they’re creating. Around about which time they’ll be interested in mutual protection of that of other people.

    Poor places will steal which is fine for they’ve no money we can get by charging them. Richer places will become rich enough to desire to cooperate. There’s no problem here.

  3. A majority of the students in America’s STEM graduate programs are foreigners, and most of them are Chinese. Chinese constitute and absolute majority of the graduate students in some departments. As graduate students, they design experiments and do them, develop theories and models, publish papers in refereed journals, and write and get research proposals.

    They have to go home after 18 months practical job experience. And they take their skill with them. Right now, China is second only to the US in papers in refereed journals.

    Chinese businesses, and the government, steal a lot of ideas and technology. But, they also create a lot. Until last year, China had the two fastest supercomputers in the world, and had built them from scratch, chips, operating system, memory everything. They still have more supercomputers than does the US. They also have a manned space program, which the US does not have. They recently landed a robot on the far side of the Moon, which indicates they have the technical ability to put men on the Moon. Who made your cell phone?

    The constant denigration of Chinese abilities is a very bad mistake. China is clearly on the rise, and the US and the West are in decline.

  4. The constant denigration of Chinese abilities is a very bad mistake. China is clearly on the rise, and the US and the West are in decline.

    +1
    Someone who is weaker than you is fine no need to be rude, someone who used to be weaker and is now competitive and making you look bad – that is intolerable.

    Also, yes china put a robot on the moon which takes some advanced math. We managed to show that despite equal pay there is a gender pay gap – that takes even more advanced maths.

  5. They recently landed a robot on the far side of the Moon, which indicates they have the technical ability to put men on the Moon.

    Yet I’ve read they lack the capability to make ball point pens. I’m not denigrating China, I’m saying the jury is very much still out on whether they can innovate to create consistently high-quality goods on their own.

    Who made your cell phone?

    Who made your car tyres?

  6. It will be very interesting indeed to see what happens if poorer countries start knocking off Chines innovations,/IP the way they have been doing.

    Can’t imagine they’ll be too subtle or totally legal.

    Britain became the world first industrial power essentially because of the innovations it produced. The innovations of the US and other western nations helped them. If China is going to dominate the way Britain did or the US currently does, won’t it have to do the same?

  7. “Yet I’ve read they lack the capability to make ball point pens.”

    I’m trying to remember this story. It’s not that certainly. Might be that they can’t make the ball for ball point pens. Fair enough, that’s a tricky piece of engineering making a tiny and neat perfect ball bearing like that. But it might even be one step further back, they can’t make the machine that makes the balls. At which point, think there’s only one country that can. Because there’s only the one firm that makes machines that make balls for ball points.

    Might have rather hashed that as it’s from imperfect memory. But it was a story that did the rounds oooh, maybe a decade back?

  8. It will be interesting to see how China’s legal system works — Will there be appeals? Will the judgment be enforced? There are so many SUV brands which look largely similar to the passer-by — steering wheel, 4 road wheels, engine at front, tailgate at back. What are these magic 5 features on the LandRover that are so unique? And if those features are relatively small, how easy will it be for Jiangling to make minor changes and carry on trucking?

    I was in China recently, and was truly amazed at all the foreign brands (Asian, Euro, North American) on the busy roads — mostly made in China. And even more amazed at all the Chinese brands I had never heard of. Quality seemed pretty good. The hard reality is that Western IP horses have mostly already left the barn. Western manufacturers built plants in China as the price of access to the Chinese market (now the largest auto market in the world), and it seems like most of the supply chain is now firmly embedded in China. “Design follows manufacturing”, as they say — so this situation gives China a strong position for the future.

    When China’s auto market finally slows down and all those Chinese transplants and Chinese brands start trying to export to the West to keep their factories humming (with astute support from the Chinese government), life is going to get harder for auto-dependent Germany and Japan.

  9. @Tim Worstall on April 1, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    Re Make ball point pens

    The [your] article last year was that China had finally managed to make a small metal ball with sufficient quality & accuracy

  10. Someone on here or TimW’s blog recommended following @carlzha on Twitter and it has been quite interesting. He posts a lot about the impressive amount of infrastructure has been builing over the past few years and I mean impressive.

    However it got me thinking… I don’t think the Chinese as a race are any more or less prone to committing fraud and embezzlement than any other race or nation, but the one-party State does appear to have mis-aligned incentives that does mean there is a fair bit of serious fraud.

    He posted one story about a school where they had been feeding the children rotten food and following serious protests the city passed a law insisting that head teachers eat with and the same food as their pupils. Anyone who takes a little more than a passing interest in China will be aware that there has been many scandals, including contaminated milk and baby formula.

    It will be a long time in coming if there has been fraud in those infrastructure projects but if there has been that will be a major catastrophe.

    For the record, I once live in a barrack block designed and built by John Poulson, so I know we aren’t immune from that sort of fraud.

  11. They can produce first-rate goods all right – look at phones such as the OnePlus. That’s possibly second-mover advantage in action, but there’s some innovation at play, too – although not Steve Jobs level innovation as yet. I don’t think it’s far ahead, either – simply because of the size of China’s smart pool, probably comparable to America’s already.

    Some of the domestic sectors are insanely competitive in China so the pressure to innovate is there. Sure, IP protection is weak to non-existent but it’s not necessarily a death sentence. It will emerge in due course, although patchy and inefficient at first. Some historians argue that the patent system as it existed in Britain before 1852 was too expensive and slow to be a major factor in the industrial revolution. However, by the mid-19th century demand for effective IP protection was strong enough to overhaul the ancient procedure.

    Besdies, even without patent protection, stealing others’ technology can be risky and costly. And for some industries, open source can be the better approach.

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