On a number of occasions, Sticky and I used to play a silly little game between ourselves at the Milan Motorcycle Show (EICMA) of ‘Spot the Clone’. You see, over the years some of the less scrupulous manufacturers in China seemed to think it was fine to simply copy other manufacturers’ scooters and arrive back in Italy 12 months later with said clones displayed on their own stands. Back in the 1990s it was often the latest Japanese or Taiwanese sporty-looking mopeds that were copied, but as retro became cool again, the amount of cheap Chinese scooters that looked suspiciously like a Vespa grew and grew.
Fans of BBC TV’s Top Gear (when it was on terrestrial television) may recall an episode investigating car clones being produced in China with anything from a Smart Car up to a BMW 4×4 seemingly being copied with little regards to copyright infringement or the like.
Ignoring for now the plastic copies of the 1960s Vespa VBB 150 that have been on the market for some years, what really took the Mickey as far as Piaggio were concerned, was Chinese manufacturers turning up in their back yard so to speak with clones of their Vespa LX and then their latest Primavera scooters.
As you’d expect Piaggio weren’t going to let that happen and we witnessed on a number occasions the police confiscating scooters from the Milan Motorcycle Show. In fact following the seizure of scooters back in 2013, Piaggio began proceedings to try and prevent this from happening again and as published on the HFG (Law & Intellectual Property) website on 29 May 2020, a recent decision issued by The Court of Appeal of Turin, Italy states that “Piaggio’s 3D trademark and copyright over the well-known Vespa have been infringed.”
While their original case against the infringement the Vespa LX design had a less satisfactory outcome for Piaggio, they announced this time regarding the Primavera that, “it won a European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) decision in court against a Chinese scooter maker. The allegation: that two brands, Motolux and Dayi Motor, copied the design of the Vespa Primavera for two scooters shown at Eicma 2019.”
The design registered by the Chinese party has therefore been declared invalid by the EUIPO.
What is interesting is that now this case has been won by Piaggio regarding the copyright of the Vespa and also the 3D trademark (according to the Italian Copyright Law, copyright protects “industrial work that shows per se creative character and artistic value”), this in effect could mean that any copies or clones that use the famous and unique Vespa silhouette could be subject to legal cases.
Here I should point out that with regards to LML for example, if they were still producing scooters, this would be unlikely to affect them if they would still manufacturing the Star model using tooling obtained directly from Piaggio.
On the other hand, the plastic retro scooters I mentioned earlier that cloned from a 1960s Vespa and sold under various badges and brands throughout Europe (sometime even illegally and misleadingly advertised as a Vespa), could find themselves in Piaggio’s cross hairs.
This might sound heavy-handed to some – after all, the copies and clones are far cheaper so more people can afford one, right? But copying is basically piracy. Whether it be CDs, DVDs, books, art or scooters, remember that the person or company that created the original has worked hard and invested time and money to create that. If it was your design and brand you’d spent years developing then I’m sure you’d be pretty miffed too…
In other news, everyone likes freebie, right? Well Piaggio are kindly offering anyone with scooter that is still under warranty (or a warranty that expired while they were in lockdown) an extension of two months – free of charge – to make up for the time spent out of the saddle.
Find your closest retailer and fill in the form downloaded from their website by 30th June 2020 and you’ll get a voucher to extend your warranty. Click here for details and the form. Simples.
Finally, as the country emerges slowly from lockdown and the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) remind the Government that commuting on a powered-two-wheeler is the ideal form of self-isolating transport, the Italian manufacturer has announced some new consumer offers to try and lure customers back into their showrooms. These include the Piaggio Liberty 125 scooter available with 0% HP finance, the Piaggio Medley 125 and MP3 300 hpe Sport available with 3% PCP finance and the Vespa GTS 125 and 300 models available with 0% HP finance. These deals all run from 1 June until 30 September 2020 and for more information visit your local Piaggio dealer or point your browser over to www.uk.piaggio.com
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