EU gives green light to Chinese ‘Vespa’ scooters despite Italy’s copycat claims

EU Court rules Chinese manufacturer did not violate intellectual property rights of one of Piaggio’s iconic scooters.

EU gives green light to Chinese 'Vespa' scooters despite Italy’s copycat claims
Photo: Deposit Photos

Italian motor giant Piaggio has lost a case against a Chinese company it accused of copying the design and form features of its perennial bestseller: the Vespa scooter.

The EU’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled on Tuesday that Zhejiang Zhongheng industry’s flagship scooter had “its own individual traits” when compared to Piaggio’s Vespa LX, the former having more angular lines compared to the latter’s rounded features.

“There is no risk of confusion among informed users,” the judges concluded.

Zhejiang scooter's design. Photo: General Court of the EU

The Luxemburg court’s decision comes five years after Piaggio first presented the alleged intellectual property infringement case to the EU, claiming that the Zhejiang scooter's EU product registration was unlawful as it copied the design of the iconic Vespa, on the market since 1946.

Despite the court’s ruling, there is little reason for the classic “motorino” (scooter) manufacturers to be concerned about sales.

Since 2008, over 1.6 million new Vespas have been produced and sold worldwide. Last year Vespa sales grew a further 16 percent after a record 2017.

In March, the Vespa GTX model was voted “Scooter of the Year” at Germany’s prestigious Motorrad Awards.

As for the LX series, the first model was released in 2006, a fusion between the old-school design of the first Vespas with more modern features. Its name stands for the Roman numerals for 60 (to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the first Vespa scooter). 

 Photo: Wikimedia/Khaosaming

Member comments

  1. Of course the EU sides with the Chinese! Once again, the EU has shown that its entire existence is centered on commerce and not what is good for the people. They care little if a countries industry is threatened and they care even less if the culture and the language of a member state is slowly eroded. Almost on every corner in Italy there is nothing sold but cheap Chinese copies now they will begin to flood the market with their cheap Vespa lookalike. The EU is slowly doing to Europe what the Germans failed to do. Create one master state ruled puppets while, behind the scenes the Germans run the show. The EU must die if Italy is to survive!

  2. What’s good for the people? Isn’t being able to afford a scooter also good for the people? Let’s face it copyrights and design protections are government-enforced monopolies. They need to have a finite lifespan and not be overly strict so that other manufacturers can borrow and adapt over time.
    We all benefit from this cycle of innovation and standardization. The benefits are harder to find, but I’d argue that this ability to “re-mix” is far more important in the long run than any one company’s so-called “right” to cash-in in perpetuity for something created by a dead person.

  3. LOL, go to the US and shop in any store and almost everything is made in China. Hardly any of it is created in China, it is mostly copies and in many cases, simply stolen ideas made cheaper by low paid workers. Quality is hardly ever as good as the original. Kruser’s comment that “Isn’t being able to afford a scooter also good for the people? ” is ludicrous. Last time I looked it did not seem as though Italians were unable to afford scooters based on the number of scooters on the road. However, allowing the Chinese to flood the Italian market with look-alike cheaper scooters will undoubtedly put more Italians out of work. In the US you have legions fo once well-paid factory workers now doing service types jobs at half the wage. As for Kruser’s comments that copyrights and design protection are something bad, since they are, as he/she says, “government-enforced monopolies” he reveals his naivete! How many companies would invest millions if not tens or hundreds of millions doing R&R and new product development IF they knew that as soon as the product hit the market the Chinese could legally copy and reproduce? “We all benefit from this cycle of innovation and standardization”, so says Kruser. Really, please name the innovative products that come out of China which THEY created. Watch how fast the EU denies the Chinese when they want to enter the German market with a product that threatens one of Germany’s iconic companies. Guaranteed the EU will never allow this, but hey who cares about Italy. As one of the overpaid EU members said, ‘Italia is a nice place to visit and they have good food’!

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