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Mahindra Roxor banned in the US for design infringement – Fiat wins case

Import of Mahindra Roxor kits into the US has been blocked as it’s styling is deemed to be a copy of Jeep Wrangler’s

Ever since the Thar-based Mahindra Roxor off-road vehicle went on sale in the US market, the Indian UV specialist has been locked in a fierce legal battle with Fiat Chrysler, the parent company of Jeep. FCA sought the ban of import and sales of the Mahindra Roxor claiming that it’s styling would dilute the Jeep Wrangler’s brand image.

In November last year, Trade judge Cameron Elliot ruled that the Mahindra Roxor infringes the trade dress of Jeep based on six specific sign elements but not the quintessential seven-slot front grille. He further recommended that the Trade Commission ban the import of Roxor kits and components into the US. Basically, neither FCA nor Mahindra emerged fully victorious and hence both parties appealed to the Trade Commission to review the case.

In a recent notice posted by the International Trade Commission (ITC), it has upheld the judge’s finding that the Mahindra Roxor is a copy of the Jeep Wrangler. Hence, the blockage of Roxor kit imports into the US will stay. Technically, the Trump administration could veto the ban but it is not likely to happen.

Mahindra Roxor import banned in US
Mahindra Roxor import banned in US. Image – Chris Loomis

Responding to the November findings, in January 2020, Mahindra stated that revised model incorporates significant restyling to differentiate itself from the Wrangler. The controversial grille has been replaced by a new honeycomb mesh. The 2020 Mahidnra Roxor starts at USD 15,999 (around INR 12.13 lakh). The off-roader is assembled at a CKD facility in Michigan out of kits sourced from India.

The US-spec off-roader is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder diesel engine producing 65 hp and 195 Nm of torque. The vehicle can be specified with a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox. Both rear-wheel-drive and 4×4 (with 2–speed transfer case) configurations are available.

As of now, the Mahindra Roxor continues to be listed on the company’s North American website. The Indian automaker has submitted a new filing with ITC stating that the revised Roxor doesn’t violate the design and that FCA is attempting to achieve “a practical monopoly over the import and sale of components used in any boxy, open-topped, military-style vehicle.”

In response, FCA claims that Mahindra plans to “design right up to the line of infringement.” It also stated that the question of whether the new Roxor should be allowed to be sold in the US can be decided later.

Mahindra doesn’t seem to have given up on the Roxor but it looks like it is over for the off-roader in its current avatar. The Thar-based vehicle has been enjoying quite a fan following in the US for its off-road abilities, attractive pricing and ease of modification. In order to continue selling the Mahindra Roxor in the US, the company may have to execute a complete design overhaul while retaining its DNA.

SourceBloomberg

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