By on August 17, 2021

Last month, General Motors filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Ford’s use of the term BlueCruise for its SAE Level 2 advanced driving assistance suite. GM has argued the phrase is too close to its own SuperCruise system and wants Blue Oval to ditch the name for something else. Ford recently filed a motion asking the US District Court in San Francisco to throw out the case, as it believes the term cruise is common enough to qualify as ubiquitous.

This is the industrial equivalent of two of your friends screeching at each other because one of them wanted to name their youngest son Landon while the other already named their kid Langston. Though the manufacturer’s feud may be dumber because it’s not exactly like we’ve recently started affixing the word cruise to the systems found inside automobiles.

That’s basically Ford’s case, too. “Consumers understand ‘cruise’ to refer to a feature in their vehicle that performs part of the driving task or assists them in driving, and they do not associate that term with any one company or brand,” Ford argued in its request to dismiss the lawsuit on Friday.

GM’s rebuttal has been that Ford could have easily selected another name, which is true and might even help the feature stand out a bit better. But it’s clear that both companies lack imagination so the successive name would probably be something like Good Drive. There’s also a significant amount of marketing material and money behind the existing names, making them harder to abandon.

This week, GM has been doubling down that it already filed its trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office while Ford has been petitioning the government to revoke them. This once again hinges on whether or not terms like cruise are considered common enough. But it feels like a no-brainer. Cruise control has been ubiquitous in cars for decades and there are probably a dozen automotive-themed songs from the Beach Boys that should help with precedent stretching back to the 1960s. But the word itself inarguably stretches back to at least the 17th century as a common nautical term.

Ford believes it was a mistake for the Patent Office to have issued those trademarks to anyone, as they overlap with common terms that have been understood by the driving public for at least a generation. For what it’s worth, the General has vowed to defend its claim. On Monday, the company spoke with The Verge and said it “remains committed to vigorously defending our brands and protecting the equity our products and technology have earned over several years in the market and that won’t change.”

A corporate spokesperson added that Super Cruise was introduced in 2012, and possessed “a well-established commercial presence since 2017.” They argued that the same applied to its self-driving subsidiary of the same name, which was established in 2013.

Frankly, if there’s any fairness left in the justice system, Ford should probably emerge victorious here. But just typing that kind of makes my stomach upset. Something tells me that, if the roles were reversed, Ford would be behaving exactly as General Motors has. These aren’t magnanimous actors trying to build a better world, they’re huge corporations arguing about which words they can control for unpolished driver assistance systems that are encouraging widespread breaches of privacy so they can ultimately make more money.

[Image: General Motors]

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17 Comments on “Ford and GM Feuding Over Names...”

  • avatar

    Well, if one considers GM and Ford’s track record related to reliability, perhaps Ford should consider infringing on a name that Toyota uses. LOL.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    And now Carnival Cruise Lines is suing both proclaiming that they have been using the term “Booze Cruise” for longer than both companies.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Good point Lou GM and Ford’s recent track records haven’t been that great and both are reaching Stellantis levels of quality.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s not true. Good lord this tired old false perceptions have to end. Also, my Stellantis cars, SUVs and truck have all been of very good quality as have my family’s.

      • 0 avatar

        Our Mopars have been more reliable than my in-laws Toyotas.

      • 0 avatar

        Here’s what I do. I talk to my friend, warranty manager of a local Chrysler dealer for over 22 years. The huge dealer group his dealership is part of with 55 dealers overall sells every damn make on the market.

        He himself bought a 2011 Hyundai Sonata and traded it on a powder puff 2016 owned by an old guy just two months ago. Far as he’s concerned, Jeeps are crap. He says people in his position across other dealers in the group have an easy job compared to him when they compare notes.

        Your mileage may differ, and the best of luck to you. Just getting overly upset and waving your arms about in Yankee protest, signifies nothing about FCA, GM or Ford quality. To me or anyone else, it’s just posturing.

        Reality is reality. I’d say Chrysler/RAM whatever their damn name is these days occupies the middle strata, with Jeep at the bottom of that. Ford is down in the unreliable group. CR confirms it. Whether people who own this American stuff want to beat their gums aimlessly, write indignant comments in an overly bossy top-down lecturing manner on forums, or criticize CR’s own reliability survey for being suspect, I care not one whit. Not one whit. You do protest too much.

        I own a Mazda. Guess where they land up?

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    When we stop innovating, we start litigating.

    Hmmm…. I better claim that catch phrase.
    Copyright by Schmitt Trigger.

  • avatar

    We need more “Bort” license plates in the gift shop. I repeat we are sold out of “Bort” license plates.

  • avatar

    I still think ‘Booze Cruise’ every time I see mention of the Ford thing. Ironically (possibly not) it’s a feature folks may use as a booze-induced driving feature. Maybe GM should let Ford use it and wait for the DUI litigations to pour (ha!) into Ford.

  • avatar

    Just stupid. How come neither sued the other over the use of the word segment “-matic” for their transmissions? Perhaps Harley should have sued GM over the word “Glide” and GM could have sued back over “Electra”. I think GM is still butthurt over how the Beretta thing worked out.

  • avatar

    “Cruise” is generic term that anyone can attach other words to. Just like “drive:” Toyota Hybrid Synergy DRIVE, Hyundai Blue DRIVE, BMW iDRIVE. Sure Gm can stop Ford from co-opting “Super Cruise,” but not the word cruise itself.

  • avatar

    Ford is correct IMHO. “Cruise” is pretty generic and yeah, I already associate it with a driving aid. As does everyone else…

  • avatar

    anyone remember the Hummer 7-slot grill fight between GM and JeeP?

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