FCA Wants to Stop Mahindra From Importing the Roxor
Fiat-Chrysler claims the Roxor is a nearly identical copy of the iconic Jeep design.
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles has filed a trade complaint against Indian manufacturer Mahindra, attempting to block the upcoming Roxor SUV from being sold in the U.S. because it too closely resembles classic Jeep designs, reports Bloomberg.
"FCA US is requesting that the International Trade Commission open an investigation of Mahindra’s intentional trade dress and trademark infringement of our Jeep brand related to the import, distribution, and sale of the Roxor product in the U.S.," FCA told The Drive in a statement. "Specifically, we are requesting that the ITC issue an exclusion order to prohibit Mahindra from importing the infringing product into the U.S. We cannot comment further at this time as this matter is under review by the Commission."
Though missing the vertically slatted grill that has been a Jeep trademark since the beginning, the Roxor does strongly resemble the classic Willy's Jeeps that first established the brand. That is the focus of FCA's complaint against Mahindra. Of course, the original Jeep CJ-2, would never pass modern safety or emission standards for street use. But Mahindra can get around this restriction by selling the Roxor as a strictly off-road vehicle—essentially, a side-by-side.
However, Mahindra has a very different perspective on this matter. "The relationship began in the 1940s with the original agreement with Willys and continues to this day, with the most recent agreement executed with FCA (then Chrysler Group LLC) in 2009," Mahindra told The Drive in a statement. "Our actions, products, and product distribution (including ROXOR) both honor the legacy of the relationship and the terms of our agreements with FCA. Mahindra has been co-existing with FCA (and the Jeep brand) for over 25 years in India and in many other countries."
Mahindra built a new factory in Michigan last year specifically to help build and distribute the Roxor in the U.S. It's possible that the previous agreement did not anticipate that Mahindra would sell its version of the Jeep in the U.S. where it could be seen to compete directly against Jeep's own products. Although it could be argued that the Roxor, not being a street-legal vehicle, is not a true competitor to the modern Wrangler. It could also be argued that the Wrangler's off-road prowess is what makes it unique, and the Roxor's close resemblance to the Jeep infringes FCA's trademark on the design. It will be up to the U.S. International Trade Commission to determine who is right.