A federal US regulator has decided to investigate the off-road utility vehicle Indian brand Mahindra, which was launched in Detroit early this year.
The decision by the US International Trade Commission (USITC) follows a complaint by Fiat Chrysler (FCA).
Both are based out of Detroit, considered to be the world’s auto capital.
In its complaint, Fiat Chrysler alleged that certain parts, design and look of Mahindra’s Roxor ‘ an off-road utility vehicle ‘ were infringements of its trademarks.
The complaint alleges violations in the importation into the United States and sale of certain motorised vehicles and components thereof that infringe trade dress and trademarks asserted by Fiat Chrysler.
Fiat Chrysler has requested that the USITC issue a limited exclusion order and cease and desist orders.
USITC’s Chef Administrative Law Judge will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation; that initial determination is subject to review by the Commission.
Mahindra responded by saying that Fiat Chrysler’s complaint against the Roxor was without merit, and sought an injunction against legal action by FCA.
Mahindra in its defence has argued that the Roxor traces its origins to the Jeep CJ3B, a design that it had acquired from Jeep way back in the 1950s. While the Roxor looks similar to the CJ3B, the grille design is quite different. According to the terms of an agreement that Mahindra and FCA have, the former can’t sell any vehicle with the Jeep grille in the US.
However, Mahindra can sell vehicles that have different front grilles. In the case of the Roxor, the grille is a five-slat unit, which is different to the 7-slat Jeep grille. However, FCA has still gone ahead and sued Mahindra for patent infringement. The investigation into this matter by the US authorities will be wrapped up in 45 days.