Tony O'Kane | Apr 28, 2009

Geely isn't ashamed to admit that its GE luxury limo is heavily "inspired" by Rolls Royce's super-opulent Phantom, but the British automaker isn't exactly flattered by the Chinese brand's homage to its flagship.

Rolls-Royce is considering its legal options as it scrambles to protect its image as the luxury marque, a reputation that will be especially important in the emerging Chinese market over the coming years.

"In one sense it's quite complimentary, but we have to be protective of our brand image," said Rolls-Royce Spokesman Andrew Ball to British newspaper The News.

"We're having a bit of a chat with our lawyers about where we could take it."

But Geely spokesman Zhang Xiaoshu insists that while outwardly similar, both cars are still unique in their own right.

"As it were, they are actually different... people may feel they are the same at the first glance, but the details are certainly different," Zhang told to AFP.

2009 Geely GE

With the GE set to go on sale in China within the next three years at a starting price of just 1 million Yuan (AU$207,000), the Chinese three-seater will likely pinch a good number of prospective customers from Roll's forecourt - particularly considering the GE costs just one-sixth of the Phantom's asking price.

Does it represent enough of a threat to Rolls-Royce for them to be worried? Would a legal challenge from the British company stand up in court? Grab some popcorn, this could get interesting.

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