Breaking News: Geely To Sue MetroCab In High Court, Over Iconic Shape


The maker of London’s iconic black cabs sued companies building an environmentally friendly alternative, saying the similar design would confuse drivers and customers.

The London Taxi Company, a unit of Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., said Frazer-Nash Research Ltd. and Ecotive Ltd.’s zero-emission Metrocab breached its trademarks.

“It is actually all about the shape,” said Douglas Campbell, a lawyer for the cab-maker, at a London court hearing ahead of a November trial.

London Mayor Boris Johnson announced last year that all of the city’s new taxis should be zero-emission by 2018 as part of efforts to reduce pollution. Geely is investing 250 million pounds ($387 million) in a new facility in Coventry to build greener versions of the black cab.

Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive said last month they would start production on the new Metrocab in 2016, in partnership with privately held manufacturer Multimatic Holdings Inc. The venture’s 50 million-pound factory will also be based near Coventry.

“The identity of the manufacturer of the car is a matter of supreme indifference to the passenger,” Frazer-Nash said in documents at the London court hearing, where the London Taxi Company asked the judge to approve a market survey for use in the trial.

Officials at the London Taxi Company declined to comment. A spokesman for Frazer-Nash didn’t immediately respond to e-mails and phone calls seeking comment.

Drivers of black cabs must pass a four-year training program called the “knowledge” to demonstrate their understanding of the city’s 25,000 streets.

Each cab driver essentially runs a small business, buying or renting vehicles, licensed by London’s transport authority. The London Taxi Company manufactures the majority of black cabs. Frazer-Nash’s zero-emission Metrocab is currently undergoing trials in the city.

The case is The London Taxi Corporation Ltd. v. Frazer Nash Research Ltd. & Anr, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, HC14B01502

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