A niche market largely centered on France, the three-wheeled scooter is not only the subject of an intense commercial battle. It is also an intellectual property issue, as suggested by the announcement of the conviction of Peugeot Motocycles for ” counterfeit », Tuesday September 21.
At the Metropolis, distributed since 2013 by the French brand (which became the property of the Indian Mahindra in 2019), the French and Italian courts criticize having been inspired by the system which allows the Piaggio MP3 to lean into bends like a two- conventional wheels or, on the contrary, to block the fork (“anti-tilting”) so as not to have to put your foot on the ground when stationary.
The Paris court ordered Peugeot Motocycles to pay 1.5 million euros in damages and to cease the marketing of scooters using the patent concerned, while the Milan court accompanied the ban on marketing with a penalty of 6,000 euros for each machine sold. Peugeot Motocycles management has let it be known that it will appeal the two decisions and will continue to broadcast its Metropolis in France – a market which totals more than half of three-wheeler sales -, but questions the advisability of continue sales in Italy.
« Our position is firm: the articulation system of the Metropolis is absolutely different from that of Piaggio », says Costantino Sambuy, President of Peugeot Motocycles. For its part, the Italian group recalled in a press release the “Considerable investments in research and development” devoted to MP3 since its launch in 2006.
Fall in staff
The patent war between the two brands is not new. It began in 2014, when the Piaggio took legal action, considering that four of its patents were unduly used by its French competitor. Unsuccessful for three of them, Piaggio won on the fourth.
This conviction risks slowing down the recovery of Peugeot Motocycles, long in crisis and which produces several models, including the Metropolis, in the historic Mandeure plant (Doubs) whose workforce has fallen, in thirty years, from 1,500 to 300 employees. . Recently restyled, the Metropolis (whose price starts at 8,999 euros) is the most upscale and most profitable part of the brand’s catalog. After a hesitant start, in the middle of the 2010s, sales had gradually strengthened to represent 20% of French registrations, far behind Piaggio.
Very popular in France, and to a lesser extent in Germany, the three-wheeled scooter – a market in which Yamaha is also present – benefits from a legal exception which allows it, despite its displacement of up to 500 cm3, to be driven without having obtained the motorcycle license. A holder of a car license can take the handlebars at the end of a seven-hour training course.