The EV wars are rapidly evolving and we have seen our fair share of models emerge to try and get their own piece of the action. However, one battle is getting fresh attention with Bollinger Motors taking UK upstart firm Munro Motors to court over patent infringement claims as the two automakers try to get their respective EVs in the hands of customers.
Bollinger, Munro Fight Centers On Image
In the lawsuit that it filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Bollinger Motors claims that the similarity between the Bollinger B1/B2 and the Munro MK_1 is far from a mere coincidence and that its appearance is doing damage to Bollinger’s reputation. A key player in the spat is Ross Compton, Munro’s chief designer and a former designer for Bollinger.
According to the lawsuit, Bollinger claims that Munro infringed on two of its patents (D836,027 & D836,487) with these two patents covering “a unique vehicle design…[which] feature exposed hardware and hinges, extensive use of flat surfaces, aesthetic chamfered surfaces, flat and parallel body lines, and a distinctive wheel arch design. At first glance, the MK_1 does appear to have a strong resemblance to the B1 with the two sharing the same core shape and front end design though the Munro MK_1 has a different design for the headlights and uses two bulbs for the rear lighting with the turn signals mounted in a different place. A key argument in play here is a term called “trade dress infringement” with Bollinger reps (including CEO Robert Bollinger) claiming that the similarities between the two models will cause confusion amongst customers and that this confusion would cause damage to Bollinger sales as well as their reputation as a whole. The B1 and the B2 were originally cancelled a few years ago before a recent investment by Mullen helped restart production of the duo.
Bollinger also claims that Compton violated his Non Disclosure Agreement by retaining Bollinger intellectual property and other materials while also subsequently sharing this information with Munro. It’s important to note that Compton signed the agreement on February 16, 2015 and Bollinger also asserts that he took screenshots of Bollinger CAD models and sharing them on social media “for the purposes of self-promotion” while also claiming that he is not complying with an existing cease-and-desist order, both, in further violations of the NDA. Per the suit, Bollinger is seeking a permanent injunction against Munro and Compton as well as monetary damages.
For its part, Munro Motors CEO Russell Peterson revealed in an emailed statement that the company is aware of the allegations brought about by Bollinger Motors in its lawsuit. “The company takes IP infringement extremely seriously and Munro intends to robustly defend its position over the unique design of the Munro MK_1 all-terrain vehicle.”
With both companies not backing down, it would appear that the two firms are preparing for a long legal battle, but this is not the first time that two automakers have accused each other of trademark infringement. A notable example was the multi-year fight between FCA (now Stellantis) and Mahindra over the Mahindra Roxor. The Roxor’s overall design had a look that was very similar to an older Jeep Wrangler and while the case was complicated by past dealings between the old American Motors Corporation and Mahindra, it ultimately resulted in a settlement in 2020 and the redesign of the Roxor to comply with the terms of that settlement.
The lawsuit does not name Bollinger’s majority owner Mullen Automotive which bought a 60% stake in Bollinger back in September.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.