Chinese Company’s Attempt To Copyright Classic MINI Design For EV Fails


A Chinese company has lost its bid to copyright the shape of the classic Mini for use as a new EV after the real owner, BMW, objected.

Beijing Estek Technology submitted a patent to China’s State Intellectual Property Office in May last year for a car that looked disturbingly like a classic Mini. It combined the general body shape of the 1969-2001 car, characterized by its concealed door hinges, but also displayed details of older Minis, such as the radiator grille, rear lights and rear license plate lamp.

Technical details were sketchy but Car News China reported that it likely had a front-mounted electric motor driving the front wheels. The patent drawings show that the new car has an exposed fuel filler cap, just like on the original, but that could have been repurposed as an EV charging port.

But BMW quickly got wind of the plans and in July of 2022 filed a request to invalidate the patent application. And according to Chinese car news website, Autohome, the State Intellectual Property Office has just announced that is siding with the German automaker. The ruling gives Beijing Estek Technology three months to respond to the decision if it’s not happy with the outcome.

Related: New Chinese EV Maker Wants To Build A Classic Mini Clone

 Chinese Company’s Attempt To Copyright Classic MINI Design For EV Fails

The State Intellectual Property Office’s decision is clearly the right one, but it’s interesting to note that it was happy to grant a patent to Great Wall’s Ora for its blatant Beetle rip-off, the Punk Cat. But the Punk Cat did at least have five doors and subtle styling differences – the Mini clone looked like it had simply been simply scanned in from BMW blueprints.

So it looks like anyone wanting an electric classic Mini will have to make to make their own, or pay for a conversion from a company such as Super Coopers. On one hand we can’t help feeling slightly disappointed that the Ch-ini isn’t going into production, but we also can’t see how an original design could be made to meet modern crash regulations.


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