The Chinese owner of MG Rover could find itself in a court battle with a rival to decide ownership of the remains of the collapsed car group.
The prospect of a legal tugofwar was raised yesterday as a Government Minister indicated that Nanjing Auto, which picked up the company off administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers, was committed to a controversial "lift and shift" operation.
Trade and Industry Minister and Dudley South MP Ian Pearson accepted the "priority" for Nanjing Auto was to take vital equipment back to China.
But he said he remained hopeful the group would eventually establish some sort of car making presence at Longbridge.
Mr Pearson's comments came as PwC said Nanjing and rival bidder Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) might have to settle their dispute in the courts.
Nanjing bought the company from PwC but SAIC had previously paid £67 million to MG Rover, when it was still trading, for rights to the Rover 75, Rover 25 and the K Series engine.
Rob Hunt, joint administrator and partner at PwC, said issues surrounding the intellectual property rights still had to be resolved between the two Chinese firms.
He said: "We are still involved in trying to ensure that each party's rights and interests are protected.
"We have an ongoing role to play, trying to broker an agreement between Nanjing and SAIC.
"But we will not be acting as a judge, and if agreement cannot be reached, then it might have to be settled in court."
Mr Pearson, who was on a recent trade trip to China with Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson, told the West Midlands Business Council: "I remain optimistic that we will see manufacturing commence again at Rover.
"It seems to me the priority for Nanjing Automotive is to ensure that certain equipment is removed to China to support the development of their business there.
"They have said on the record they want to provide up to 2,000 jobs in the UK."
But he admitted that the row over intellectual property rights was a major obstacle.
"We will continue to monitor the situation closely. If there is something sensible we can do to support the policy to re-start production at Longbridge that is clearly what we would like to see happen."
Unions are worried that if equipment goes to China, and time begins to drag on, the chances of production beginning again at Longbridge become slimmer.
About 400 Chinese workers are at the Longbridge plant assessing what has been acquired.
Dave Osbourne, national secretary for the car industry of the Transport & General Workers Union, voiced concern over the development.
He said: "It is very disappointing to hear a Government Minister talking in these terms.
"The unions remain committed to doing all we can to keep car making in Longbridge and indeed the West Midlands with the skills associated with that."
A source close to Nanjing said: "All along we have said production for small and medium cars is likely to go to China.
"That needs to happen for a viable UK business. You need to take advantage of volume production in China for the economics of the UK business to work.
"Some production lines will go to China, but significant assets will remain in the UK to enable car production to take place. There will not be a lift and shift operation."