In an all too common scenario, the iconic 1959 Mini design has recently attracted the interest of a Chinese electric vehicle company known as Beijing Estech Technology Co (BET). BET had filed a design with the Chinese Intellectual Property Office (CNIPA), heavily based on the classic 1959 Mini design, albeit with very minor changes. This design was to form the basis of their new suite of electric vehicles.
Initially, CNIPA accepted the design application as shown below. However BMW, who is now the owner of the Mini marque and the IP relating to the original Mini design, filed a complaint with CNIPA, seeking to have the design declared invalid.
CNIPA recently issued a decision siding with BMW although whether this will have an impact on clones of this nature being sold in the Chinese domestic market is debatable. However, it does indicate that there are systems in place at the Chinese Intellectual Property Office to allow brand owners to invalidate inappropriate design applications.