Honda mulls suit against Vietnam electric motorbike maker for comparative advertising

By Nguyen Khoa   February 20, 2020 | 06:30 pm GMT+7
Honda mulls suit against Vietnam electric motorbike maker for comparative advertising
Pega's eSH 2020 electric motorbike. Photo by VnExpress/Luong Dung.
Honda Vietnam wants to sue Vietnamese electric motorbike manufacturer Pega for doing comparative advertising using one of its high-end models.

The Japanese giant has asked the Hanoi-based company to clarify its use of images and specifications of the Honda SH 2020 motorbike at an event on February 11 to introduce its new electric bike, eSH.

Pega chairman Doan Ngoc Linh admitted that the design of the eSH, with a price tag of around VND30 million ($1,300), was copied from the Honda vehicle, but said it had a more attractive look, more comfortable seats and a cleaner engine.

He used various images of the two vehicles displayed side by side to make the point.

Pega chairman Doan Ngoc Linh compares Pega eSH and Honda SH 2020 at a presentation on February 11, 2020. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Pega chairman Doan Ngoc Linh compares Pega eSH and Honda SH 2020 at a presentation on February 11, 2020. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Honda has written to Pega saying the use of the images of its product had seriously infringed its legal rights and benefits and affected the brand. 

It violated Vietnam’s advertising and competition laws, Honda claimed. It demanded monetary compensation for the damage caused, a public apology and removal of the presentation from media channels.

Honda threatened to go to court if Pega did not do so within five days from the date it sent the notice, February 14.

Pega on Wednesday responded to Honda saying there had been a misunderstanding.

It said the presentation on February 11 was an internal event, and comparing products was not something new and was a global practice.

The company had invited media representatives to the presentation, which was broadcast online.

It said it had removed the livestream of the event on Facebook and assured there was no comparative advertisement of the two products on media channels.

It did not mention Honda’s request for a public apology and compensation.

Doan Thi Thu, a lawyer and member of the Ho Chi Minh Bar Association, said Pega needed to obtain permission to use information about and specifications of Honda products, and its presentation could be considered unfair competition.

If a company contends comparative advertising has caused damage to its business, it could go to court, she told local media.

Honda, which has been in Vietnam since 1998, has a 76 percent motorbike market share.

Pega was established in 2012 as a distributor of Chinese electric motorbikes. It started manufacturing in 2015 and says it uses 85 percent locally made parts.

 
 
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