Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely) is suing local electric car start-up WM Motor Technology over allegations of impairment of commercial secrets, according to local reports.

Privately-owned Geely is seeking damages of CNY2.1bn (US$292m) from WM Motor and three of its subsidiaries in a case that first came to light in a white paper on intellectual property protection published in April, but was only reported in the Chinese media at the end of last week.

The case was filed with the Shanghai High People's Court in 2018, according to its website, and a hearing is due to be held on 17 September. No specific details of the dispute have been revealed so far.

WM said it has done nothing unlawful and is confident in winning the case. A spokesperson said the company carries out independent research and development and values intellectual property protection, adding that it had successfully filed 1,076 design and technology patents by the end of June.

WM Motor was established in 2015 with the backing of internet giants Tencent and Baidu. The company spent CNY6.7bn ($950m) on a 100,000 unit plant with plans to double its capacity in the near future.

It began producing Weltmeister brand cars at the beginning of the year and sold just 8,600 units by the end of July.

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