FCA has always been keen to protect the iconic retro design of the Jeep Wrangler, so it’s no surprise they weren’t too happy when India’s Mahindra came on to the scene in 2018. The Mahindra Roxor side-by-side utility vehicle is almost a carbon copy of the classic Willys Jeep, and soon after its introduction to the U.S. market, FCA launched a design copyright lawsuit against the Mahindra. Recently, Bloomberg reported the International Trade Commission decided that the Mahindra did indeed copy Jeep styling, and they are now banned from importing the vehicle to the U.S.
The commission found that the Mahindra Roxor infringed on the Jeep Wrangler’s design trademarks in six elements, the signature seven slot grille not being one of them. Mahindra had recently updated the Roxor with an oval grille, before the update it had a five slot vertical grille. Still, the decision was made on a non-updated Roxor. Because of these design infringements, the judge found that Mahindra is purposely trying to look like a Jeep, and such an act, as it’s argued, damages the image and value of the Jeep Wrangler.
As a result, Mahindra is no longer able to import the Roxor or any parts for it into the U.S. Nothing, however, is stopping them from selling vehicles already in the country. This hurts Mahindra badly, because they import the Roxor’s components to a facility in Michigan where they are assembled. Further twisting the blade is a poor global sales year for the brand due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In April, the Mahindra Roxor reported zero new sales.
While FCA is happy with the decision, Mahindra certainly isn’t. Since the official ruling, Mahindra has asserted a filing that the original court decision used the pre-updated Roxor without the oval grille, and the updates made in 2020 further distance the Roxor from the Jeep’s design, and there is no copyright infringement. They added the Roxor in no way erodes the Jeep’s value because it’s a side by side utility vehicle, not a full road car. Furthermore, Mahindra claimed Jeep is trying to monopolize the “import and sale of components used in any boxy, open-topped, military-style vehicle.”
While the case is currently closed and FCA is happy, we don’t see Mahindra accepting defeat just yet.