When UK startup Munro introduced a 375-bhp, all-electric off-roader, our first reaction wasn’t so much excitement as it was confusion. While the idea of an all-electric off-roader tickled our fancy, the Munro MK_1 looked, well, a bit too familiar. We even said as much in that report, saying, “it reminds us of the Bollinger B1.”
Now, in a suit filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Bollinger Motors is alleging that the resemblance is far from coincidence. The EV manufacturer, which cancelled the production plans for the B1 SUV and the similar B2 truck, is accusing Munro of patent infringement. Also named in the suit is former contracted Bollinger designer and current Munro head of design, Ross Compton, who’s accused of violating a non-disclosure agreement with the Michigan-based EV manufacturer.
Gallery: Munro Mk_1
According to the suit, which is available to read on the Public Access to Court Electronic Records website under the case number 1:23-cv-00811, Bollinger accuses Munro of infringing on two of its patents (D836,027 and D836,487), both of which cover “an original and 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 shape.”
Bollinger goes on in the suit to list comparative images of the B1 and MK_1 and cites media coverage, including from Motor1.com, that points out the similarities between the designs.
Bollinger also claims Compton “without permission or authorisation, retained Bollinger intellectual property and other materials…and disclosed such materials to Munro in violation of the Mutual Nondisclosure Agreement.” Compton signed the NDA on February 16, 2015. Bollinger also accuses Compton of taking screenshots of CAD models and sharing them on social media “for the purposes of self-promotion.” He has allegedly refused to comply with a cease-and-desist order.
Gallery: Bollinger B1 and B2 electric trucks/SUVs
“It was a very personal exercise to bring my vision from paper to prototype,” Bollinger founder and CEO Robert Bollinger said in an emailed quote. “The team and I have taken great pride in our truck designs, and are thrilled that they have developed a devoted following due to their distinctive look and innovative features. We poured a great deal of passion into these trucks and are committed to defending and protecting them.”
"Munro is aware of the allegations raised by Bollinger Motors inc," Munro CEO Russell Peterson said in an emailed statement. "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."
Per the suit, Bollinger is seeking monetary damages “in an amount to be determined at the time of trial” and a permanent injunction against both Compton and Munro.