Guernsey builder of semi-displacement cruisers accuses Chinese yard of nicking its name

Aqua-Star, the Guernsey-based manufacturer of semi-displacement motorboats, is threatening legal action against Aquastar, a start-up Chinese motorboat builder that the former believes stole its name.

The two companies make vastly different craft – sportsctruisers versus long-distance motoryachts – but the MD of Aqua-Star, Geoff Wilson, has written to the Chinese company demanding that it change its name or risk substantial damages.

The plot thickened when Wilson discovered that a former employee of his firm went out to Suzhou, the town where the Chinese firm is based, to work. Wilson believes one of his company’s brochures fell into the hands of the Chinese builder.

“They’ve seen the Aqua-Star name in the brochure and blatantly copied it,” Wilson told MBM. “We’ve had confirmation from this ex-employee and he said that they did see a brochure. It’s very frustrating after 40 years of promoting a name. It’s not fair that they should capitalise on that.”

The problem of copyright theft is rampant in China, where companies have been known to play fast and loose with the law, although this is the first time MBM has heard of it happening to a big boatbuilder.

But Aqua-Star admits there is little it can do unless the Chinese company tries to expand into markets in which it also has a stake, which is certainly a risk considering the Chinese yard’s commitment in a section on its website called “Our Vast Promises” to become the “No. 1 yacht brand in China”.

Wilson added that he was keen to hear from anyone that might have experienced a similar problem with copyright infringement in China, and asked them to email him on aquastar@guernsey.net

Photo: An Aqua-Star arriving at the Southampton Boat Show