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Copy Cat / Also-Ran Dept.

Discussion in 'E90/E92/E93 M3 (2008-2013)' started by SchnuckiE30, Jan 27, 2010.

    SchnuckiE30 guest

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    I was just floating around the Autoweek site and see a write-up on a Nissan product, something called an M35. I know this has been on the market for a FEW years.
    I would like to know what the tolerance level is here for obvious rip-offs of the uniquely created BMW product, the M series. We all know that M stands for the Motorsport division of BMW and the high performance versions of the standard series. It is their unique creation and original engineering that has lead to numerous victories in motorsport competition over the decades.
    Now we have the obvious rip-off from Nissan. Is this to be tolerated, even in the most casual way? I believe that BMW filed a suit a while back, what was the result? I never followed up on that.

    You know, when a customer enters into the high level (over ~50G's ) market for a car, AUTHENTICITY is just as important as reliability, performance or style. Bringing a copy to that market using another makers model-format should be an instant non-start for consideration. I guess the lower section of the car market gets along these cheap imitations - such as the "Mazda3" and "Mazda6".

    Love the new 5 Series, going to look at one when they're out!

    (Webmaster - feel free to enter this observation into the Roundel, I'm quite curious to see as broad a response to this as possible. Thanks! )
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    az3579

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    I'll be honest; the last thing we need is more people suing each other. People know the difference between an M3/M5 and an M35, and if they don't, they don't care for an M car and would buy the M35 anyway.


    I read enough about stupid lawsuits, and this one qualifies as a stupid lawsuit. Everyone knows the difference between a BMW and a Nissan/Infinity, so this is a non-issue.

    M3Driver guest

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    You know, I thought that BMW AG had gone after them regarding the use of the "M" in a lawsuit. Saw a bit of flurry of activity on the 'net in that regard at one time and then nothing......
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    CRKrieger

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    No, it no longer does. BMW made the conscious decision to abandon the "Motorsport" division and turn it into the "M brand" back around 1987. That was their own choice and I, for one, don't mind seeing them pay for dumb marketing moves.

    Automotive marketing departments have always 'ripped off' previously used names and it's likely they always will.
    Buncha' Canadian lawyers getting rich ... My take: they figured they could beat up on little Nissan Canada to establish a precedent they could then leverage against much bigger, better-funded Nissan USA.
    You need a little better sense of history, IMO. After what they did with British Leyland's Mini, Rolls Royce, and Bentley, BMW can hardly play that card. "Authenticity", indeed.

    FWIW, two 'rip-off' cars have saved BMW's bacon. First was the license-built Austin Seven, BMW's first car in 1928-29 when they were going broke because they couldn't build aero engines and nobody bought motorcycles. The second was post-WWII when the BMW product line was all outdated non-selling luxo-barges or obscenely expensive small cars. Then, it was the Isetta, bought lock, stock, and barrel from an Italian guy. "Slap a roundel on 'em and sell 'em!" And they did.
    Oh, come on. See if you can name all the car manufacturers who have named their cars with numbers. One digit numbers (Mazda). Two digit numbers (BMW, with a decimal point, and Saab). Three digit numbers (Subaru, BMW, Porsche, Ford, Benz, Mazda again; heck, WHO HASN'T?). FOUR digit numbers (BMW and Saab again). You could probably kill a half hour at a typical bar table at O'Fest coming up with all of them. If you restrict yourself to the 3-digit numbers that BMW is fond of these days, you only get 900 candidates. With single letters, there are only 26 (in the US, anyway). Even BMW has reused them.

    What is the non-starter for me is anyone trying to claim that their number is unique enough to be entitled to trademark protection. Once in a long while, a manufacturer will defer to another for whatever reason. Porsche's Project #901 got a '1' added to it so as to avoid confusion with Peugeot's traditional #0# format. BMW built a 323. Later, Mazda built a 323. Later still, BMW built another 323. The UK had a motorway named the M1 before BMW built a car named that. My wife's Jaguar rolls on a set of Dunlop Winter M3 tires (successor to the M2, apparently) right now. So what?

    Trademark and copyright law involves a lot more than righteous indignation. It must involve a clear intent to mislead and defraud. None of these examples manages to do that.
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    Zeichen311

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    It was filed in Canada as a trademark infringement issue, IIRC. Nissan was running advertisements that didn't use the full model number(s), they were just calling it "the Nissan M" or "an M" or something like that, and linking the letter to power and performance...sound familiar? :rolleyes:

    BMW was right to stomp on them for it if BMW has a registered trademark for "M" in this segment. Trademarks are funny things. Under US law, if you don't defend a trademark vigorously against infringement, you can lose the rights to it. So you see a lot of suits over seemingly trivial infringements, not because the company is up in arms over a particular case, but because they cannot afford to have precedent established that shows they did not defend a valuable trademark.

    I've no idea how similar Canadian law is, but I do recall reading that the suit was also (rumored?) to be a defensive move to get a case on record, to discourage Nissan from trying the same stunt in the US.

    I assume they either won, or brought bigger badder barristers to the brawl and got Nissan to see the light, since the "M" emphasis is gone.

    Edit: Posted same time as CRKrieger (thanks for the link). So they lost on the trademark issue but got Nissan to stop playing coy. And I agree with CRKrieger, carmakers are always ripping each other off one way or another (Honda Crosstour, anyone?) so it's hard to get worked up over their legal maneuvering.
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    CRKrieger

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    Read the link above (blue). BMW didn't have M registered. They already lost that part.
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    Zeichen311

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    Already corrected (well, amended) my post--apparently you type faster than me. Give a guy a break, I was shootin' from memory. :D
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    tiFreak

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    Bentley and Lincoln both have a model called the Continental that were sold at the same time, no one started filing lawsuits then

    SchnuckiE30 guest

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    Ripoff Tolerance

    I know about all that history you mentioned with Dixie, Saab's 9 3, etc. I'm sure you find that Lincoln LS just fine also, although it lasted a grand total of 5 years. Real presence for sure.

    I have my answer - the tolerance level is high, it's o.k. to copy at will. There's no problem with getting undercut, surpassed by imitators and dissed in the process.

    Not interested in any 'comback' responses, entry served it's purpose.

    Thx
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    az3579

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    I have to admit, it was getting rather annoying that Pontiac was stealing the whole kidney grille thing with those hideous Grand Am cars of the 90's and 2000's.
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    eam3

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    I wish I could find the picture that I took of our 5 when we first bought it. It was parked to some Pontiac that looked nearly the same from a distance. I took a picture because I found it amusing (plus I've never cared for the looks of the E60).
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    tiFreak

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    Pontiac started the split grills in the 60's I think, they began looking more similar to kidney grills as the design became more modern looking and carmakers stopped having a grill running across the entire front of the car
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    az3579

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    True, but I think BMW's look the way they do earlier than Pontiacs did.
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    granthr

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    When the E60 first came out, Roundel ran a picture of it next to a late model Pontiac Grand Prix at the time and they looked frightening similar! :eek:

    Funny though, if you look at cars like early 80s Chevy Cavaliers, their profile is very similar to the E30. Seems like there really is no creativity out there. Everyone just copies everyone else.
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    CRKrieger

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    BMW started with the 'kidney' grilles in the 1930s. However, they added the horizontal side grilles with the postwar 'Baroque Angel' (501) and continued using both - except in the 507 and Isetta variants - until the mid-1990s. In fact, the 'Neue Klasse' 1962 1500 was designed without the kidneys (a la 1961 Pontiac!) until designer Michelotti added them at the last minute.

    Pontiac started using a big dividing stripe down the middle of the car in the 1930s. This got extended into the grille in 1960, or thereabouts, as the over-the-top stripe got dropped. They continually narrowed the halves of the grilles until they ended up with trapezoidal kidneys at just about the same time BMW eliminated their side grilles and widened the kidneys. Nobody copied anybody. It was parallel evolution. :D
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    Zeichen311

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    Just now, walking past a TV, I saw on CNN an advert for the new Camaro. Somehow I never noticed before: It has corona rings on the headlights! :eek:

    (I'll forgo any other comment on the design.)
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    eam3

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    Much like the oh-so-beloved Bangle Butt (sarcasm intended), which is now available on sedans of all price ranges, the headlight rings could be the next item to find its way to new designs. Although I think some folks are going with Audi's LEDs instead.

    Other than the aircraft carrier size and weight, I like the new Camaro. Yeah, the retro thing is played out but it's still a good looking car - even in base 300hp V6 trim.
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    bcweir

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    My biggest issue with the Camaro

    I saw the Camaro too. I like the looks, I like the power, and I like the value. It was coming up winners for me -- until I got inside it. Ugh.

    Whoever chose the interior materials for the Camaro should be fired. I just don't get it. Step into the Corvette (twice the MSRP of the Camaro, I know, but bear with me here). Chevrolet obviously spent some money on the interior in the Corvette. So why did they go with painted cardboard for the Camaro? Did the development team spend all their cash on the body and drivetrain, then go looking for spare change under the couch for the interior?

    Keep in mind, this problem is fixable. Look at the interior of the recently deceased Pontiac G8 -- or any Cadillac product. You can't tell me GM can't put a decent interior in their cars.

    I should point out that GM's chief competitor, Ford, had the same issue with the 2005 Mustang. Beautiful vehicle, decent power for the V6 (lots of it for the GT). Sit inside a 2011 Mustang now. Or the new Taurus.

    Diatribe done, and it's why I am passing over the Camaro for my next car for now.
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    az3579

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    American companies seem to always have struggled with interiors. I can think of far more horrid interiors from the likes of Ford or GM than interiors I even remotely liked.
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    bcweir

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    Ford usually does well with interiors, better than GM.

    Don't even get me started on Chrysler interiors.

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