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JLR Wants US To Ban Import Of Volkswagen, Audi SUVs – Over Patent Issue

Land Rover Defender
Image for reference

JLR uses its Terrain Response Management in SUVs such as Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery and Defender

It seems Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is very sensitive about its properties and patents. Recently the British origin auto brand filed a complaint at the US International Trade Commission seeking to ban the imports of SUVs from the Volkswagen Group namely- VW, Audi, Lamborghini and Porsche into the country.

The Tata-owned company alleged that the German group of companies has been illegally using JLR’s patented Terrain Response technology without its permission. VW Group which offers SUVs such as Volkswagen Tiguan, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q8, Q7, Q5, A6 Allroad, E-Tron and Lamborghini Urus, all use the said functionality from JLR.

How Does Terrain Response Work?

This technology features in SUVs like Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery and Defender and helps vehicles cover a wide range of surfaces. This Terrain Response management made its debut in 2005 in the Series 3 guise of Discovery which adjusts the car’s driving dynamics according to surfaces and conditions.

In its current iteration, it features five modes- sand, rock crawl, grass-gravel-snow, mud-ruts and general. For instance, when driving on sand, Terrain Response system improves engine and gearbox response and centre differential locks to maintain momentum on soft surfaces.

2021 Audi Q5 interiors
2021 Audi Q5

In its filing, JLR’s counsellor Matthew Moore, said, “JLR seeks to protect itself and its United States operations from companies that have injected infringing products into the US market that incorporate, without any license from JLR, technology developed by JLR and protected by its patent.”

Earlier Cases Filed By JLR

The latest US filing is one of the many legal moves made by JLR in recent times in order to protect its intellectual property. Last year, the automaker lost a trademark dispute case against Twisted Automotive as the former alleged that the latter’s Yorkshire based showroom named ‘LR Motors’ was very familiar to ‘JLR’. Earlier this year as well, JLR took Ineos Automotive to court over the similarity in design and shape of Grenadier, launched a couple of months ago, with the older generation models of Defender 4×4. In this case as well, the court ruled against JLR.

Consequences of Ruling

Should JLR succeed in this case, all VW Group models featuring Terrain Response system will be affected by this. Though JLR would not be in a position to claim damages, even if the court rules in favour of it, however, the International Trade Commission being an independent body, has the power to ban VW cars from being imported into the USA.

Auto manufacturers recently have gone very conservative about their technologies and design patents and are not inclined to share any with their rivals unless monetary returns are guaranteed. Any hint of similarity means lots of legal work involved. Fair enough for companies which spend tons of money on R&D every year.

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