Mahindra is fighting back against Fiat Chrysler’s attempt to block the sale of their Roxor ATV.
Things are heating up in the legal battle between FCA and Indian carmaker Mahindra. Since FCA filed their complaint with the US International Trade Commission on August 1st, Mahinda has fired back with their own set of legal complaints both to the ITC and Federal District Court.
FCA is complaining that the Mahindra Roxor--an all-terrain vehicle that is far too underpowered to be considered a car and is definitely not road-legal--infringed upon Jeep trademarks belonging to Fiat, specifically in the overall look of the car.
It doesn’t take a genius to see the resemblance, but there’s a reason for that. Mahindra initially obtained a license to make their own version of the CJ-7 Jeep back when the brand was owned by Willys. Willys went bankrupt in 1963, and the Jeep brand bounced around a few carmakers before landing with Fiat Chrysler.
In the meantime, Mahindra continued to grow and produce their own Jeeps using a license issued by a defunct company. Every new owner of Jeep never bothered to stop them since the Indian market was small potatoes--it literally wasn’t worth paying a lawyer to go to India and serve Mahindra.
My how things have changed. Mahindra is a global automotive powerhouse, and India a growing automotive market. They’re also bringing their Roxor ATV over to the US to sell to off-road enthusiasts who want something a size up from a 4x4.
But it looks just like a Jeep, and Jeep is a huge money maker for FCA. Fiat filed an injunction with the ITC, saying that the Roxor looks too much like today’s Jeep and it damages Jeep’s value.
Mahindra responded to those allegations on August 29th with a statement saying they’ve also filed with the ITC and federal court to say that FCA’s complaint 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."
Mahindra went on to explain the history of Jeep and the Roxor, and that they received a written agreement not to sue for infringement based on the Roxor’s Jeep-like look. That agreement was with Chrysler back in 2009, before it was bought out by Fiat.
Mahindra also explained that since the Roxor is not road-legal it can’t even compete with Jeep, an argument that seems to have somewhat more legal weight.
As the US legal system moves quickly for no man or corporation, we’ll have to wait months before we hear any updates on this ongoing battle between a growing Indian carmaker and an established Italian-American company.