Rough Ride Not over for Rover Marque; in the Wake of the MG Rover Collapse, Business Writer John Revill Examines the Complex Issues Surrounding Who Owns the Intellectual Property to the Car Maker's Brand and Designs

The Birmingham Post (England), May 3, 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Rough Ride Not over for Rover Marque; in the Wake of the MG Rover Collapse, Business Writer John Revill Examines the Complex Issues Surrounding Who Owns the Intellectual Property to the Car Maker's Brand and Designs


Byline: John Revill

To say the collapse of MG Rover has left a tangled mess would be something of an understatement, not least when it comes to the intellectual property rights.

The question of who owns the intellectual property (IP) rights could still end up in the courts with lawyers poring over the details of deals struck by the Longbridge car maker during its final months.

In 2004, MG Rover sold the IP right for the Rover 25, 75 and K series engines to its would-be Chinese partner, the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC).

SAIC paid pounds 67 million for the privilege, money which, it seems, was needed to keep MG Rover afloat while the bigger deal, a joint venture between the two firms, was sealed.

As everyone now knows, SAIC took fright at MG Rover's mounting losses and pulled the plug on the deal, and the last British-owned volume car maker plunged into administration.

But where does that leave the IP? And when it comes to the rights of the Rover name, was it really MG Rover's to sell in the first place?

Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are considering legal action to reclaim the intellectual property rights to the company's name and products.

PwC has engaged lawyers to examine claims that SAIC already owns far-reaching rights to the designs of the 25 and 75 models and K series engines.

The inquiry could centre on whether the car and engine designs were under-priced and whether there were any flaws in the transfer of IP rights.

A fault in the deals could, in theory, lead to anything from legal action against directors to the annulment of the designs' transfer.

Rover's lack of rights to the designs is a serious impediment to selling its remaining assets because it prevents potential buyers making the cars without permission from SAIC.

Tony Lomas, joint administrator and partner with PwC said: 'We are reviewing with our lawyers precisely what IP had purportedly been acquired and the price they paid for it.

'We are looking at whether or not the price paid for the designs was appropriate. We are looking at exactly what was and what was not transferred. And we are looking at the interdependency of the different parts of the transaction.'

SAIC is confident it has the rights to the designs.

A spokesman for the Chinese state-owned firm said: 'The deal was negotiated and executed properly and SAIC are perfectly confident that their legal title to the intellectual property rights is sound - pounds 67 million is a lot of money.'

Chinese engineers spent a period of time at Longbridge last year, seeing how they could work with MG Rover, and examining the production processes.

Now the deal is off, it will be difficult to ensure the knowledge they picked up is not used elsewhere.

Further claims could also centre on whether SAIC has the right to use the Rover name on any new cars it produced in China.

The Rover name is owned by BMW and was licensed to MG Rover, but it is believed the name was sub-licensed to SAIC as part of the same IPR deal last year.

A source close to SAIC suggested that the administrators were looking to determine what the firm's interest was.

'Without SAIC's permission, nobody else can make a Rover,' said the source.

'They are trying to get the Chinese to say 'what we would want to do is to buy this, this and this'. I suggest we are going to have an argument between lawyers.'

The lawyers and, indeed, the administrators, must be scratching their heads. In an already extremely complicated company structure, who has the design rights and the right to the name is further tangled by the involvement not only of MG Rover and SAIC, Chinese and English law, but other motor manufacturers as well.

When BMW sold the business to MG Rover for pounds 10, it included a licence to use the registered trademark Rover on cars.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Rough Ride Not over for Rover Marque; in the Wake of the MG Rover Collapse, Business Writer John Revill Examines the Complex Issues Surrounding Who Owns the Intellectual Property to the Car Maker's Brand and Designs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?