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Honda Motor Co. may file an appeal against a Chinese court ruling Wednesday that rejected Honda’s request that Beijing’s patent office reinstate a patent on a motor scooter design, Honda officials said Thursday.

“We are disappointed that our case was rejected,” a Honda official said in reference to the court decision.

The carmaker filed the lawsuit against the State Intellectual Property Office last December at the No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court; the office in September had revoked Honda’s design rights, first obtained in 1994.

The office had ruled that a Taiwan motorcycle manufacturer had been producing a similar model before Honda.

Industry sources say that of 11 million scooters manufactured in China annually, nearly 8 million are knockoff versions of Japanese models.

There are an estimated 140 licensed and 400 unlicensed motorcycle manufacturers in China.

Honda was able to file the suit after China revised its patent law in July 2001, making it possible for patent-holders to challenge the State Intellectual Property Office’s decisions in court.

Spain distributor stake

Toyota Motor Corp. said Thursday it will acquire all the equity of a Spanish distributing subsidiary to directly control Toyota’s car sales in Spain.

Toyota said it has agreed with Automoviles Nipones S.A. to buy its 65 percent shareholding in Toyota Espana, placing the distributor under complete ownership of the Japanese carmaker.

The purchase will be made Friday.

Toyota Espana was established in October 1992 as a joint venture 35 percent owned by Toyota and 65 percent by Automoviles Nipones.

The agreement is in line with Toyota’s pan-European strategy of directly controlling product distribution in key markets, as it aims to achieve a 5 percent market share in Europe by 2005, Toyota said.

Toyota also said it has agreed with Berge y Cia S.A., the parent company of Automoviles Nipones, to have Lexus Espana S.A., a subsidiary of Berge, serve as the distributor of Toyota’s Lexus vehicles in Spain for five years.

Toyota and the two Spanish companies have been business partners since 1983 in the sales, service and supply of parts for Toyota vehicles in Spain, and they will continue to cooperate in automotive services, including port handling and vehicle transport, Toyota said.

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