Blatant facsimiles and design copyright infringements are another common cause of car company ‘punch-ups’ too. German manufacturers Smart and BMW have been successful at preventing shameless Chinese-made copies of some their models from being exhibited and sold in certain European markets, with the latter also preventing the small-scale British bespoke production of an appealing 1960s Stewart & Arden lowered Mini Sprint replica, due to BMW registering the shape of the classic 1959-2000 Mini.
Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Ferrari have also managed to put a stop to various replicas from their comprehensive back catalogues of iconic models being made, with some fake body panels and moulds even being crushed by law! Recently though, Italian coachbuilder ARES Design has played Ferrari at its own game, winning a legal battle in the Brussels EU courts on a copyright ruling, enabling ARES to make Ferrari 250 GTO-inspired models.
Specialist British sports car maker Caterham has arguably been the most effective at stopping direct copies (of its archetypal Seven model) being reproduced, however. The Seven’s originator, Lotus founder Colin Chapman, agreed to pass the production rights to his inspired, simple two-seater roadster over to Caterham (previously the world’s top-selling Seven dealer specialist) in 1972.
Of the many hundreds of Lotus Seven-inspired cars made around the world since then, Caterham managed to quash would-be English rival Chris Smith produce his early Westfield facsimiles in the mid-1980s, forcing a design change to these more affordable Sevens, with all of the tooling for the early models (which subsequently became known as the pre-lit [litigation] Westfields) being destroyed by court order.
Caterham’s Dutch agent/importer – Donkervoort – was similarly forced to stop building its own precise replicas of the Chapman Seven too, with increasingly extreme reinterpretations of the Lotus original being developed and sold as the S8 and S10 models over the last 45-years or so, thus avoiding the need for expensive lawyers and playground-style scraps.