Indian industrial conglomerate Mahindra & Mahindra’s plans to launch sales of a utility vehicle in the U.S. have suffered a significant setback in its ongoing legal fight with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.
Mahindra appears to have come out on the short end again in its legal battle with FCA as a U.S. regulator has upheld an earlier ruling, stating which stated that Mahindra’s off-road utility vehicle, the Roxor, infringed upon the intellectual property rights of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep brand.
The root cause of the dispute stems from the fact that Mahindra’s Roxor model bears a strong resemblance to the Jeep CJ7.
The U.S. International Trade Commission affirmed an earlier decision by Administrative Law Judge, which had ruled that the Roxor violated FCA”s “trade dress,” Mahindra acknowledged.
Mahindra, however, said the ITC recommended an exclusion of the order prohibiting the importation of Roxor parts and a cease-and-desist order prohibiting the sale of any already imported Roxor parts.
An FCA spokesman said it was pleased trade regulators had upheld its position. But it also said it was still studying the decision. “FCA is pleased with the USITC decision in this matter. We want to study the decision before commenting further,” the spokesman said.
Throughout the years, FCA and its predecessors have fought to protect the Jeep brands distinctive fascia with its seven-slotted grille and round headlights from appropriation by copycats. FCA has argued the Roxor is a dead ringer for Jeep CJ7.
The defense of the Jeep’s signature face hasn’t always been successful. General Motors now defunct Hummer brand managed to get around the Chrysler’s complaints about trademark infringement thanks to the help of a friendly judge.
Trade dress is the technical term for a form of intellectual property that identifies the look of a product and distinguishes it from its competitors.
Mahindra, which makes industrial machinery and tractors as well as vehicles, maintains the Roxor does not violate Jeep’s trade dress. “The company and its U.S.-based subsidiary Mahindra Automotive North America remain resolute in its position that the Roxor does not dilute or violate Jeep’s trade dress,” Mahindra said in a statement.