General Motors doesn’t want to share the sandbox with Ford when it comes to using “cruise” in the name of semi-autonomous driving technology.
In response to GM’s lawsuit against its fellow Detroit-area automaker, Ford asked the U.S. Patent Office to rescind the trademarks GM filed using the word. Officials claim that “cruise” is so generic a term that no one should be able to lay claim to it.
The “cruise” chaos came to the fore when Ford announced its new semi-autonomous driving technology in mid-April, dubbed BlueCruise. GM already employs two versions of the word for similar purposes. It’s Super Cruise technology performs a similar task to Ford’s new product. Meanwhile, it also owns a significant stake in Cruise LLC, which is developing autonomous vehicles to be used as robo-taxis in the San Francisco area.
Going to court
“Ford’s decision to rebrand by using a core mark used by GM and Cruise will inevitably cause confusion between the parties, the affiliation, connection, or association between them, and/or origin, sponsorship, or approval of their goods and services,” GM said in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco where GM’s self-driving enterprise is testing the system without safety drivers. According to the lawsuit, GM, Cruise and Ford “engaged in protracted discussions” following Ford’s announcement, “but Ford insisted on moving forward with the ‘Blue Cruise’ name despite Cruise’s preexisting rights.”
GM and Cruise are asking for Ford to pay monetary damages related to the incident and for the manufacturer to stop using the BlueCruise name.
“While GM had hoped to resolve the trademark infringement matter with Ford amicably, we were left with no choice but to vigorously defend our brands and protect the equity our products and technology have earned over several years in the market,” according to Reuters.
Can’t sue if no infringement
While GM went to court, Ford — which contends the suit is without merit — instead went to the patent office. That move is seen by some as akin to pouring gasoline on a fire; however, company officials claim there was little choice.
“To defend itself, Ford has no choice but to ask the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind both of GM’s “Cruise” and “Super Cruise” trademark registrations that should have never been registered in the first place,” Ford said. “Any number of companies use the word ‘cruise’ in connection with driver assist technology.”
Ford essentially contends the word cruise is commonly used by all automakers for similar technologies, in particular, cruise control. However, the automaker offered other examples, including “smart cruise control” by Hyundai, “predictive cruise” by Mack Trucks and more.