The protracted legal battle between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Mahindra & Mahindra around the design of the SUV Mahindra Roxor seem to have come to an end. The international trade Commission came to the conclusion that the Indian SUV copies the design of the Jeep, and banned its sale in the United States.
The conflict over copyrights on the design elements of Jeep vehicles between American and Indian companies goes back to 2008. Then, Mahindra & Mahindra wanted to bring to the US market SUV Scorpio, grille which resembles that of the Jeep. The attack lawyers FCA (then the company was just called Chrysler) at Mahindra & Mahindra signed a plea agreement: the Indians modified the grille Scorpio in the alternative, consistent with Chrysler’s design, and the Americans promised not to claim.
Scorpio in the US never came, but in 2018, Mahindra & Mahindra localized in Auburn hills (Michigan), that is next to the headquarters of FCA, another SUV – Roxor, which resembled a Jeep CJ (predecessor of Wrangler) not only the grille, but General features body. The Indians, guided by the agreement of a decade ago, pulled the front grille Roxor Scorpio and launched the car into the shop. FCA such impudence suffered and complained about the Indians in the International trade Commission.
In early 2019, the Commission recognized that Mahindra & Mahindra has receded from the reached agreement with Chrysler, that is, altered the approved design of the radiator grille. The fact is that Scorpio and Roxor have different proportions of the front end, and directly to move the bars from one machine to another is simply impossible, she had to slightly distort.
In the autumn of 2019, the administrative law judge Cameron Elliot ruled that the original Mahindra Roxor copies marketability Jeep CJ on a number of grounds, not just the grille, and encouraged trade Commission to ban sales of Indian SUV.
The Commission’s decision regarding copy an Indian design Jeep CJ in General, expected in March of this year, but was postponed due to the outbreak of a pandemic coronavirus infection COVID-19. But on 11 June the Commission finally rendered a verdict: she sided with the FCA, admitted Mahindra Roxor infringing copy of the Jeep CJ, and forbade the sale of Indian SUV, and spare parts for it in the USA.
Meanwhile, Mahindra & Mahindra at the beginning of this year conducted preventive restyling of the American version of Roxor and provided him a grille in the style of the Toyota Land Cruiser J40. From the point of view of marketing’s decision is clear: since it is impossible to copy a Jeep, so we copy another legendary SUV Land Cruiser J40 in the United States is very popular. But from a legal point of view, it’s suicide, so as a new grille, firstly, does not solve the problem of copying the design of the Jeep CJ as a whole, and secondly, creates a risk of prosecution is on the part of Toyota.
The decision of the International trade Commission entered into force, but the American consumer website Mahindra at the time of our publication is still offered to buy Roxor. According to Reuters, the Indians have two months to appeal the decision of the Commission and now they think how to change the Roxor design to circumvent the restrictions. The decision of the Commission can theoretically also for political reasons to cancel the administration of President trump, but given how trump supports American companies and protects them from unfair competition from foreigners, the probability of this event is close to zero.
From open sources it is impossible to know exactly how many of the SUVs from Indian components managed for two years to collect the plant in Auburn hills, but judging by the stories the American media – not more than 20 thousand. Mahindra Roxor is a very archaic and primitive vehicle that has modern safety systems and is not allowed (in the US) on public roads. That is, is pure SUV, and a direct competitor to the much more modern and versatile Jeep Wrangler it is not. However, in offroading togethers ancient analog Roxor, which is twice less than the Wrangler, began to entice with the brand Jeep customers, and the leadership of the FCA is, of course, did not like.
Mahindra & Mahindra is now experiencing serious difficulties at home and can’t contain acquired in 2011, the SsangYong Motor company. It is unlikely that she will find strength and time to another attack on the American market, so Roxor from the USA, most likely, will leave. The owners have already purchased machines, with no possibility to buy spare parts, it is likely to sue Mahindra & Mahindra over the fact that she sold them counterfeit goods. In General, we’ll continue to monitor the adventures of Indians in America.