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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
GM sues Chinese firm for copying
GM Daewoo's Matiz sub-compact car
GM Daewoo says the Chery QQ is too similar to its Matiz
General Motors is suing a former unit of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation for copying a car design.

GM Daewoo, a South Korean unit of GM, said China's SAIC Chery Automobile had copied the Daewoo Matiz's body structure in its Chery QQ model.

The Korean firm said it wanted 80m yuan ($9.7m; 5.1m) in compensation.

The case - accepted by a Beijing Court, according to Chinese state media - is sensitive because GM and SAIC are involved in a major joint venture.

Damage limitation

The QQ appears to be similar to the Daewoo Matiz (and to GM's Chevrolet Spark, which is based on the Matiz).

GM Daewoo said tests showed the body structure, interior and exterior design of the QQ and many of its components were very similar to the Matiz. It added that many parts were interchangeable between the two cars.

SAIC Chery denied the allegations, saying it spent more than a year developing its QQ car. It added it has up to 24 design patents on the model.

GM Daewoo began suing Chery last December in Shanghai, but transferred the suit to Beijing after Chery complained on jurisdiction grounds.

GM Daewoo had tried to resolve the dispute through mediation for a year and only resorted to the courts when this failed, the company said.

SAIC, which spent 67m buying car designs from collapsed UK carmaker Rover, held a 20% stake in Chery.

But it sold the holding late last year in what was thought to be a damage-limitation exercise.

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