The carmaker has taken legal action under trademark laws against 15 businesses that were selling L200 and Lancer Evolution models imported from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). It argues trademarked vehicles were being put on the market without its consent.
The 11 dealers have agreed a High Court settlement not to sell any non-EEA Mitsubishi aged less than three years old. Two other defendants ceased trading. Another two, Motor Mall Ltd and Roxburgh Technical Services, declined to settle. Mitsubishi plans to pursue these through the High Court.
Jim Tyrrell, Mitsubishi Motors UK managing director, says: “The importation of new and nearly-new Mitsubishi vehicles from outside the EEA into the UK needs to stop as there are a number of issues which are damaging the Mitsubishi brand and causing customer dissatisfaction. The most significant is the fact that these vehicles do not have a manufacturer’s warranty.”
Mitsubishi began investigating after a company advertised new-model L200 pick-ups in The Sun newspaper prior to the vehicle’s launch in the UK. The vehicles were built in Thailand, and had neither heaters nor air-con, and used engines not homologated for Europe.
Tyrrell says the Mitsubishi dealer network had to deal with enquiries from customers querying the price difference. Mitsubishi temporarily added a £2,000 registration bonus to enable dealers to remain competitive.
Trademark law does not distinguish between new and used products, however Mitsubishi will act only in respect of any non-EEA vehicle aged less than three years old, preserving free trade in older non-EEA vehicles. Only 5% of all secondhand Mitsubishis imported from outside the EEA are less than five years old.
The settlement does not affect the defendants’, or other dealers’, ability to continue to trade in vehicles which have been put on the market with Mitsubishi’s consent.
Mitsubishi says it will continue to protect its intellectual rights and take enforcement action against any organization importing non-EEA vehicles of less than three years old.