Fiat Chrysler Gets Its Wish; Jeep Lookalike Blocked From U.S.

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
fiat chrysler gets its wish jeep lookalike blocked from u s

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ battle to keep an Indian all-terrain vehicle — one that looks suspiciously like a certain flag-waving American off-road vehicle — out of the U.S. has come to an end. FCA won.

As reported by Bloomberg, the U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that Mahindra’s Roxor, which strongly resembles a Jeep CJ, is in violation of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and infringes on the complainant’s trade dress. In short, the Mahindra Roxor looks too much like a Jeep.

The investigation launched back in 2018. The Roxor, assembled via knock-down kit in Auburn Hills, Michigan — ironically, FCA’s home base — cannot legally be driven on U.S. roads, though it does take the ATV experience in a conventional driving direction. It’s not cheap, and it’s not underpowered.

Slab-sided, with blocky fenders and a roll cage, the Roxor undeniably looks like a vintage, military-issue Jeep. You almost expect Hawkeye Pierce to hop out of one, wagging his finger at Truman.

Last year, a federal judge ruled that the Roxor comes too close to Jeep’s Wrangler, stating that Mahindra & Mahindra should stop production. Mahindra appealed, claiming that the Roxor did not infringe on any of FCA’s registered trademarks. In stepped the ITC for a final say on the matter.

“Trade dress” can be a hazy thing, falling outside the boundaries of strict patents and trademarks. In a bid to maintain the model’s presence in the U.S., Mahindra altered the Roxor’s grille for 2020 (top photo), removing any Jeep-like attributes from that part of the vehicle. It now vaguely resembles a vintage Toyota SUV.

Not good enough. The ITC has now issued a cease and desist order to Mahindra and its American business arm.

In its ruling, the commission said it “issued a limited exclusion order (‘LEO’) prohibiting the importation by respondents Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. (‘M&M’) of Mumbai, India and Mahindra Automotive North America, Inc. (‘MANA’) of Auburn Hills, Michigan (collectively, ‘Respondents’) of certain motorized vehicles and components thereof that infringe complainant’s asserted trade dress.”

In January, Mahindra stated that it would “make additional styling changes, if so required, in cooperation with the ITC.”

It also complained that FCA was trying to create “a practical monopoly over the import and sale of components used in any boxy, open-topped, military-style vehicle.”

[Images: Mahindra & Mahindra]

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  • Charliej Charliej on Jun 13, 2020

    FCA was probably worried that the Mahindra would have better quality and reliability than the real Jeep. And they would probably be right.

  • Stuki Stuki on Jun 13, 2020

    Those who can, do. Those who can't, use their privileged connections to block those who can, from doing. Story of America's fall from 1st to 3rd world status...

    • See 3 previous
    • Stuki Stuki on Jun 13, 2020

      @Lorenzo Any idiot can "do something" if cost is no object. Doing it cheaply, is what takes skill and insight. Once the way to compete, is no longer to do things the most efficiently, but instead to lobby to ban others better than you at efficiency from doing what they do, we're the Soviet Union.

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  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
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  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.