2021 Mahindra Roxor Off-Roader Doesn't Rip Off Jeep, Can Be Sold in US: Ruling
Taking some cues from the classic Toyota Land Cruiser made the Roxor redesign just different enough for the International Trade Commission.
Mahindra got the green light to manufacture and sell its redesigned 2021 Roxor after the International Trade Commission ruled Wednesday that the new design no longer infringes upon Jeep's trade dress, according to a statement released by the company.
Jeep parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles previously claimed that the off-road-only Roxor UTV infringes on Jeep's trade dress by using design elements that are too similar to those associated with the Jeep brand.
Mahindra's statement reads:
"International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued its final ruling and determined that the redesigned 2021 ROXOR does not infringe on the “Jeep Trade Dress” claimed by FCA. This follows on the heels of earlier ITC and Federal District Court rulings that Mahindra did not infringe on any of FCA’s registered trademarks. The ruling comes after a long-running trade dress dispute between FCA and Mahindra."
The Roxor's design goes all the way back Willys CJ that was licensed to Mahindra to build for the Indian market in the 1940s. While the design remains very old-school for the most part, Mahindra has updated parts of it over the years, first as the Indian-market Thar and then as the Roxor UTV. When Mahindra introduced the Roxor for sale in the U.S., it sported a slightly different vertical-slat grille and round headlamps that FCA claimed were too close in design to Jeep's. FCA also took issue with the boxy body shape of the Roxor, which they also claimed was just too similar to Jeep's products.
Mahindra, which had imported complete vehicle kits from Jeep to India in the past, claimed that Jeep's pre-FCA parent company Chrysler Group gave them permission to use the grille in its most recent agreement with the brand in 2009. They also argued that they weren't a direct competitor to Jeep in the U.S. market as the Roxor was not legal for road use, and was marketed as a UTV.
That didn't fly with the ITC, who ruled in favor of FCA last year and ultimately blocked sales of the previous Roxor design. Thus, the 2021 Roxor was born. While much of the 2021 Roxor is very similar to the infringing models that came before it, its new grille looks more like a classic Toyota Land Cruiser than a Jeep's, which the ITC ruled was good enough.
FCA, naturally, isn't pleased with the ruling. "While FCA is disappointed with the Commission’s decision regarding the redesign, we believe we will be successful in appealing this decision," an FCA spokesperson told the Detroit News.
We'll have to wait and see if the post-merger Stellantis continues this battle. I don't think we have to wonder what FCA thinks of the new, suspiciously Wrangler-esque Indian-market Thar, though.
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