Feds Wade Into Fiat Chrysler-Mahindra Spat, Promise to Get to Bottom of Roxor Affair

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
feds wade into fiat chrysler mahindra spat promise to get to bottom of roxor affair

A decade-old document signed by Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra and Chrysler Group LLC will be at the center of an investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Announced Tuesday and reported by Reuters, the feds will look into the patent dispute that erupted when Mahindra began importing the very Jeep-like Roxor all-terrain vehicle into the United States. FCA claimed the Roxor looks too much like the classic Jeep CJ line, predecessor to the Wrangler, and filed an intellectual property complaint to the ITC. Nuh uh — we had a deal, Mahindra responded.

FCA wants Mahindra’s U.S. arm to cease the importation and sale of Roxors or Roxor parts, but the India-based company is now seeking an injunction against FCA. It’s a pretty bitter dispute, perhaps even more so than those seen between Western automakers and makers of carbon-copy Chinese knock-offs. The Roxor does look an awful lot like the classic Jeep, adopting numerous styling cues long associated with the go-anywhere brand.

But the 2009 agreement forged between Mahindra and Chrysler — with current FCA CEO (then Jeep division boss) Mike Manley holding the U.S. pen — focuses not on the body, but on the grille. Mahindra found itself in hot water at the time after designing an SUV with a seven-slot grille, a feature at the heart of Jeep’s identity. The two sides reached an agreement: If Mahindra agreed to redesign the grille in a manner that met Chrysler’s approval, the American automaker would refrain from any claim of design or trademark infringement against the other automaker’s vehicles, so long as said grille was in place. (You can see the before-and-after grille designs in court documents published by Jalopnik.)

While the Roxor’s grille sticks to the general design seen the 2009 document, the body — “trade dress” in automaker legalease — goes straight for Jeep’s heart. FCA mentions it extensively in its ITC complaint; more so than the grille, in fact.

Whatever the ITC decides, we’ll know about it soon enough. Reuters claims the feds aim to complete the investigation into Mahindra’s Roxor within 45 days.

[Image: Mahindra & Mahindra]

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  • Lne937s Lne937s on Sep 12, 2018

    Looks more like a Ford M151 than a current Jeep. Is Ford going to go after them next? Or AM General? I think the rights to the "Jeep-like" shape are so diluted that it would be a hard case to make. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M151_%C2%BC-ton_4%C3%974_utility_truck

  • Vulpine Vulpine on Sep 12, 2018

    The problem is, they're both right... and both wrong. Mahindra was given an unlimited license to build vehicles based on the original CJ-3 series of Jeeps by Jeep's then-owners in the early- to mid-50s. While FCA now owns the Jeep brand, the license was never revoked by any previous Jeep brand owners. This could result in a very interesting fight.

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?
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