A few weeks ago, we told you that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) had filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission and is seeking an investigation and future order barring Indian manufacturer Mahindra from assembling its Roxor UTV in the United States, which looks virtually identical to the classic Jeep CJ-5.
This morning Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. released the following official statement…
A complaint was filed by FCA US, LLC (“Fiat”) with the United States International Trade Commission (“ITC”) against Mahindra which we believe is without merit. In response, we have taken a number of actions both within the ITC and in Federal District Court that we would like to share with you. Mahindra filed a Public Interest Statement with the ITC on August 22, 2018. This Statement expresses our position on this matter and explains how it is in the public interest for the ITC to rule against Fiat and in favor of Mahindra.
Our goals on the public interest statement were two-fold. One was to state our position on the merits and the other was to correct inaccuracies regarding Mahindra as a company and the ROXOR as a product. We set the record straight on the history of Mahindra, including its U.S. operations. We also demonstrated that the ROXOR is a vehicle that was always intended only as an off-road vehicle, does not compete with Fiat vehicles, is manufactured and assembled in the first OEM plant to be built-in Michigan, USA, in the last 25 years, was the result of more than three years of research and development, and categorically rejected the notion that the ROXOR was an imported low quality “knock-off” kit car.
On August 23, 2018, Mahindra filed a complaint in Federal Court in Michigan on the issue of the applicability and enforcement of our 2009 agreement with Fiat. We are asking the court to block Fiat from participating in the ITC claim – an injunction – because of the fact that they agreed in 2009 to never bring such claims if we use a grille that they approved. The ROXOR uses that grille. We are also arguing that Fiat is using the ITC case to harm our ROXOR business by creating negative publicity, damaging our reputation and our stature in the marketplace. – Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
While not a direct competitor to the Jeep Wrangler, FCA is arguing that the design is too closely cued to the legendary Jeep’s heritage.
To make things even more difficult, the Mahindra Roxor is assembled only a few miles from FCA US’ Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
Mahindra and Jeep have had a history that dates back over 70 years. Mahindra actually built civilian Jeeps beginning in 1947 for then Jeep parent, Willys-Overland.
This isn’t the first time that the Jeep brand has been in a position to fend off perceived copycats. In 2002, then Daimler-Chrysler lost a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in its bid for an injunction against General Motors (GM) for the grille design of the popular Hummer H2. The H2 featured a seven-slotted grille, which was a trademark of the Jeep brand.
Because of the Hummer brand’s origin ties with the Jeep brand dating back to 1971, when then Jeep parent company American Motors Corporation (AMC) turned Jeep’s Defense and Government Products Division into AM General. In which, AM General then began producing a civilian version of its military vehicle, the Humvee in 1992 and seven years later AM General sold the rights to the Hummer brand to GM.
A three-judge panel upheld an earlier court ruling that Daimler-Chrysler couldn’t prove it had a “family of marks” identified with Jeep vehicles.