When China centrally planned its car industry, it went for the scattergun approach, issuing more than 100 licences to car and parts manufacturers rather than just a handful of industry flagships. It seems inevitable, therefore, that claims of copying competitors' designs or logos might result. This week, Japan's Nissan Motor said it was considering legal action against Great Wall Automobile Holding over alleged design piracy. Great Wall denies the charge. Toyota Motor, likewise, claimed Geely Group's logo was uncannily similar to its own. A Chinese court disagreed. In the chaos of China's car market, it might have been a bigger surprise if some cars did not end up resembling one another. The dilemma was how to acquire the necessary know-how - reinventing the wheel is easy, fuel-injection engines are another matter - while avoiding a foreign takeover of a potentially huge industry. Now China plays host to just about every major international car manufacturer in strict 50-50 joint ventures. But it also has Great Wall and Geely, two own-brand upstarts who have been accused of copying. We will get a chance to see these firms for ourselves as both are going on show on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Geely and Great Wall share more than just the wrath of their Japanese competitors. As well as both being privately owned, neither has foreign joint venture partners and they produce cars under their own labels. Great Wall is launching an initial public offering next week in Hong Kong. It should take note of the claim made by Toyota about Geely. Toyota alleged that Geely's logo was similar to its own. A Chinese court, however, on Monday ruled that mainland customers can tell the two apart. Great Wall made its mark as a manufacturer of simple pickup trucks but last year it moved up a couple of gears with the launch of new sports utility vehicles. Operating margins jumped from 20 per cent to 27 per cent in the first half and pickup sales now account for more than half of turnover. Geely in contrast is taking a more roundabout route to the stock market. It hopes to gain approval to complete a back-door listing through Guorun Holdings. Geely openly admits its cars are cross-breeds. It first sources parts, then assembles them - its cars are even made to order. But these mongrels sell at less than half the price of the competition, 40,000 yuan (HK$37,000), and are not bad looking - part BMW and part Benz, reputedly. Although it is a crowded one, investors in Brilliance China Automotive Holdings or Denway Motors will attest that the mainland's motor market is growing at a fast pace. Denway, Honda Motor's joint-venture partner, reportedly has a six-month backlog in orders for its saloons. Foreign investment in the car industry has also accelerated this year - General Motors plans to double production, while Ford Motor and Nissan have both announced billion US-dollar investments. Stepping back, it certainly looks like the market has hit that sweet spot in its life cycle after years of waiting, when 80 per cent sales growth can still be accompanied by margins double the mature markets' levels. Basic economics tells us that new supply will come in and bring margins down but it will not tell us when. For now, talk of a production glut may be premature as China still has one of the lowest car ownership levels in the world. Consolidation is more likely, especially as some joint ventures unravel when foreign ownership rules relax. Some of the new joint ventures give foreign partners call options to buy out local partners. For Geely and Great Wall, the low-cost own brand appears the most profitable way forward. Customers probably know they only look like a Toyota, BMW or Nissan, but it seems there are enough of them who do not mind.