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Beetle Rip-Off ORA Punk Cat Is Now Patent-Protected

In April this year, at the 2021 edition of Shanghai Auto, Great Wall Motors’ EV division ORA unveiled a new electric vehicle that would come to market later this year: Punk Cat. It was the first chapter in an ongoing saga whose end might still be out of sight.
Great Wall Motors patents two ORA Punk Cat models, both in China and the EU 17 photos
ORA Punk Cat on 2021 Auto Shanghai may prompt legal action from Volkswagen due to similarities to the BeetleORA Punk Cat on 2021 Auto Shanghai may prompt legal action from Volkswagen due to similarities to the BeetleORA Punk Cat on 2021 Auto Shanghai may prompt legal action from Volkswagen due to similarities to the BeetleORA Punk Cat on 2021 Auto Shanghai may prompt legal action from Volkswagen due to similarities to the BeetleORA Punk Cat on 2021 Auto Shanghai may prompt legal action from Volkswagen due to similarities to the BeetleThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interiorThe ORA Punk Cat is an obvious VW Beetle lookalike with electric drivetrain and trippy interior
Punk Cat is a very ‘60s Beetle-looking vehicle stretched to four doors, with an all-electric drivetrain and an interior that could be described as anything from retro-glam to a tacky eyesore, depending on who’s doing the judging. It’s scheduled for mass production later this year, and, as of last month, it is protected by patents both in China and Europe.

That last part is very important: since it was shown at the auto convention, there’s been a lot of talk and speculation on whether Volkswagen might sue over what was a clear ripoff of the Beetle design. VW itself said that attorneys were looking into the alleged similarity between the two vehicles, and that they “reserve[d] the right to take any necessary legal steps.”

Suing a Chinese company over copyright infringement is a notoriously difficult, time- and money-consuming endeavor, which many international companies avoid. For one, if that Chinese company has backing from the state, it means business in China might suddenly come across impossible obstacles, and no one wants this kind of hassle. Secondly, some China-made products, as is the case with EVs, are only meant for this market, and, as such, the damage can be contained.

If VW does follow through with the threat of a lawsuit against ORA, it will come across yet another obstacle: Great Wall Motors has patents protecting the Punk Cat, CarScoops reports. They’ve been filed and approved in China and in the European Union, with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EU IPO). The patent shows two models, one of which is the vehicle shown at Auto Shanghai. The other also bears a close resemblance to the Beetle but is slightly more cartoonish.

The patent is valid through 2026, with the possibility to extend it for 25 years, with an application every five years. It credits 11 Chinese designers for the creation of either model.

As the saying goes, the ball is now in Volkswagen’s court, and it could be that its next move will be heavily influenced by rumored plans to bring back the Beetle as an EV.

Editor's note: The gallery shows the ORA Punk Cat on display at Auto Shanghai 2021.

 
 
 
 
 

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