We are sometimes spurred on by our competitors to come up with better innovations. Some manufacturers endeavour to make better what was designed by someone else. That said, there are some “lazy” manufacturers who instead blatantly copy others shamelessly to the extent that they have been taken to court. Which copying is good for the industry and which one is bad?
Jude: Correct me if I am wrong but I think it is Mercedes Benz that started the design of having the blinkers (indicators) on or within the side mirrors. I think they did it first with the face-lifted first generation ML.
Mustafa: Is it technology or design?
Jude: Design. And after that, almost every other automaker copied it.
Mustafa: You know one of the greatest minds of our generation, Steve Jobs, the former Apple CEO, said good artists copy but great artists steal. That is one of the quotes that people keep talking about. In the car industry, this happens all the time. When BMW releases its latest model, immediately, Mercedes orders for it and puts it under some bunker. They tear it apart and see what is going in there.
Jude: Is that why they are introducing the ML coupe or MLC? It is coming up next year but it looks very similar to BMW’s X6.
Mustafa: It could be their marketing team coming up with an idea, like let’s come up with something that will fight the X6.
Jude: Motoring journalists are saying it is an imitation of the X6 because BMW was the first automaker to come up with an SUV coupe.
Mustafa: Yes, but you know I could say the same with the Mercedes CLS. The four door coupe.
Jude: So is copying good?
Paul: I think the argument of copying is rapidly running out of steam. The Germans have been the first to cry foul. A few months ago, the German Chancellor, Angella Merkel, had a go at China. A lot of Mercedes Benz and BMW cars have look alikes in China.
Jude: The Chinese have been at this game for a long time. They copy your car and get away with it.
Paul: Even Fiat, has gone to court over copying. But the Chinese have stuck to their guns saying it is everywhere. Even in Germany, it is happening! The thing is, with every idea that comes up, because of competition, your competitors are bound to respond. They may come up with something similar but packaged in a better way. And I think if you ask if copying is good, I will tell you copying is healthy. It keeps everyone on their toes.
Jude: I may not have a problem with copying per se, but the way the Chinese do it. If Mercedes copies BMW’s SUV coupe design, at the end of the day, the Mercedes will look different. But the Chinese will copy the Land Cruiser and make theirs exactly like yours and give it a funny name.
Mustafa: There are two things. There is blatant copying whereby someone will put your technology in something say like a photocopying machine.