Having recently settled a piracy dispute with General Motors, Chery Automobile now is facing another trademark battle - this time from a Chinese instant messaging company, local reports said on Thursday.

According to the The Associated Press (AP), the China Daily and other state-run newspapers reported that Tencent Holdings alleges that the automaker's Chery QQ minicar infringes on its popular QQ instant messaging service.

Staff who answered the telephone at Chery's general manager's office told the news agency they had no comment while a Beijing-based Tencent spokeswoman Yuki Yu, did not immediately respond to inquiries about the dispute.

AP said the China Daily quoted Tencent spokesman Song Yang as saying the two companies were holding "urgent negotiations".

The report cited a Chery executive as saying there had been no trademark infringement but that the two companies were in talks.

AP noted that Tencent QQ, China's first instant messenger service, was launched and registered by Shenzhen-based Tencent in 1999 while Chery registered its QQ model minicar, one of China's best-selling vehicles, in 2003.

The news agency noted that reports of the dispute came just a week after GM announced it had reached a settlement resolving legal disputes with Chery - the US automaker had accused Chery of copying the design of its Spark minicar, which looks similar to the Chery QQ, and had threatened legal action over Chery's name, which it said sounds too much like "Chevy," the nickname of its Chevrolet brand.

Last September Chery agreed not to use that brand name in the United States, The Associated Press added.

Entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin is scheduled to begin selling Chery-made vehicles in the US from 2007, through his recently-established Visionary Vehicles company.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more