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Does This Look Like a CJ-7 Jeep or Wrangler?

Fiat Chrysler has won a cease-and-desist victory against Indian conglomerate Mahindra to stop imports of the Roxor off-road vehicle. Bloomberg reports that the United States International Trade Commission upheld a judge’s earlier findings, with some modifications, that the Roxor was a look-alike copy of the Jeep CJ-7 and Wrangler. The case is now closed.

In a statement, Mahindra Automotive North America (MANA) said it remains committed to the Roxor:

The International Trade Commission has upheld the Administrative Law Judge’s determination, which held that the Roxor does not violate any of FCA’s registered trademarks. Still, it broke FCA’s trade dress and has recommended an exclusion order prohibiting the importation of Roxor parts and a cease-and-desist law banning the sale of any already imported Roxor parts. MANA remains resolute in its position that the Roxor does not dilute or violate Jeep’s trade dress. MANA is, therefore, considering its options concerning a further review and appeal of the ITC Determination both during the Presidential review phase of the ITC decision and at the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

The vehicle that was subject to the action was produced in 2018 and 2019 and is no longer in production. The Roxor design refreshed for the 2020 model year, and further design changes are in the works as part of the standard design cycle.

The dispute goes back years. Last November, an ITC judge ruled that Mahindra was guilty of trademark infringement and recommended that a cease-and-desist order implemented on imports of Roxor kits and components. But his ruling only applied to six specific design elements that didn’t include the registered trademark for the Jeep’s signature vertical-slats grille. The latest ruling addresses both sides’ requests for a review of the provisions of that decision they lost.

Meanwhile, Mahindra in January introduced a redesigned 2020 Roxor that does away with the look-alike grille in favor of five rows of rounded rectangular openings between the circular headlights. Mahindra had asserted in a filing that its new model wasn’t in violation and that FCA is trying for “a practical monopoly over the import and sale of components used in any boxy, open-topped, military-style vehicle.”

Fiat Chrysler said Mahindra plans to “design right up to the line of infringement,” Bloomberg reports and answers the question of whether to allow the newer models sold in the U.S. will be decided later.

Mahindra in 2017 opened its new North American automotive headquarters and production facility, where it builds the Roxor in suburban Detroit as part of a $230 million investment. Workers there had transitioned to making face shields, aerosol boxes, and other personal protective equipment. At the same time, auto production was temporarily idled because of the coronavirus outbreak but had resumed auto production last month.

The company is hoping to land a $6.3 billion contract with the United States Postal Service for a new delivery truck and has said it would open a second assembly plant in nearby Flint.

What are your thoughts on all this?
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