Fiat Chrysler had filed a case against the Mahindra and Mahindra over violation of intellectual property rights [IPR] at the US trade commission some three months back. Mahindra was accused of coping the FCA’s Jeep grille design in the Roxor. FCA is contractually barred from pursuing this investigation. Therefore, Mahindra can import the Roxor from India to US for retailing the vehicle in the US auto markets.
“The Commission Investigative Staff believes that Mahindra & Mahindra and Mahindra Automotive North America, Inc. met their burden of establishing that FCA US LLC is contractually barred from enforcing its intellectual property rights against Mahindra’s importation of the accused vehicle,” said a statement from the Staff.“FCA is contractually barred from pursuing this investigation if Mahindra’s vehicles contain or use the approved grille design. The evidence shows that Mahindra’s Roxor uses the approved grille design. Thus, the record supports a finding that Mahindra met its burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that FCA is contractually barred from pursuing this Investigation,” the statement further added.
“Mahindra has no right to use the Jeep IP. FCA owns and retains full rights in the Jeep IP and has not granted a license to Mahindra to use the Jeep IP in any country, including the United States. FCA’s predecessors did have prior dealings with Mahindra India, granting Mahindra India limited contractual rights to manufacture and/or sell Jeep branded components and products in India beginning in the 1940s. And none of those contracts at any time granted Mahindra India (or any other Mahindra entity) ownership rights over Jeep brand-related intellectual property. Nor did any of these past agreements grant any rights to manufacture, sell, or advertise vehicles, such as the Accused Products, incorporating the Jeep IP in the United States,” FCA had said.
In response, Mahindra said that an agreement it had reached with FCA in the past allowed it to market vehicles in the United States with a different grille design than what was offered on Jeeps.
The Roxor off road SUV was launched in March 2018. The off road SUV is based on Thar with no doors, no hard roof top and no windscreen. Powering the Roxor is a four cylinder 2.5 litres diesel unit. Speaking to analysts Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, M&M said, “We are looking to sell 4,500-5,000 Roxors by end of this financial year.”