- Mahindra Automotive North America CEO and President Rick Haas agrees it looks like a Jeep
- An Administrative Law has determined the Mahindra Roxor infringes on Jeep vehicle looks.
- FCA thinks a cease-and-desist order is appropriate to prevent Mahindra from selling any vehicles in the U.S.
First thing’s first, Mahindra is a large auto manufacturer based in India that’s been around since the mid-1940s. By the mid-50s, their “affair” with the Jeep began as they actually assembled CJ3 and in the decades to come, they developed their own SUVs, many of them Jeep-inspired. In 2010, Mahindra introduced the Thar, a clear version of the classic Jeep, which was then followed up by the Roxor, marketed as a side-by-side, or the subject of this news story.
As with most car companies, breaking in the North American car market is an absolute goal and a near guarantee of success if consumers take to the product. Mahindra set up shop in Michigan in 2010 and while they had plans for a pickup and more, things did not unravel as planned. Fast-forward to 2018 and the introduction of the Roxor, the North American version of the Thar, and FCA’s understandable concern with various levels infringements.
Specifically, FCA is “concerned” that the Roxor is a near copy of the Jeep CJ and uses six distinct features, known as “trade dress”, that belong the to the Jeep. These elements are “the exterior hood latches, the door cut-outs above the bottom portion of the side body panels, and a boxy body shape with flat appearing vertical side and rear body panels ending at about the same height as the hood.”
FCA added that the Roxor’s “hood is substantially flat with curved side edges that taper to be narrower at the front” and there are “trapezoidal front wheel wells with front fenders or fender flares that extend beyond the front of the grille.” The grille itself, which is “flat with vertical elongated grille slots and a trapezoidal outline that curves around round headlamps position on the upper part of the grille” is another source of contention.
Apparently, FCA are not the only ones to agree that the similarities are too close. Administrative Law Judge Cameron Elliot has outlined that the Mahindra Roxor does infringe on classic Jeep styling.
In his ruling, he recommended that the United States International Trade Commission grant FCA’s limited exclusion order that covers the Roxor and its components. He actually went so far as to recommend a cease-and-desist order to block Mahindra from selling the Roxor in the United States, including those already available for sale.
The process is not completed yet as FCA must ask the United States International Trade Commission to “confirm the ALJ’s conclusions on the Jeep Trade Dress.” If all goes according to plan for FCA, the exclusion and cease-and-desist orders will be issued in mid-March next year. Moving forward, FCA will be “seeking an injunction to prohibit future sales of infringing vehicles, as well as disgorgement of Mahindra’s profits from the infringing Roxor.” This separate but related trial will begin in May of 2020.