Mahindra had big plans for the Roxor side-by-side here in the U.S. At first glance the tiny Roxor had a number of traits that helped differentiate it from other UTVs which included having a look that was very reminiscent of older Jeep Wrangler models. Unfortunately, this resemblance drew the attention of FCA, and after a long legal fight Mahindra lost a key ruling Friday that now prohibits it from importing the Roxor (and its components) into the U.S.
This latest ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC) appears to have formally brought an end to a legal battle that has spanned several years. A judge last year ruled against Mahindra on six different styling elements that caused the Roxor to infringe on FCA’s trademarks. However, in a rather curious twist, this finding DID NOT include the iconic Jeep front grille design. The Roxor’s first grille design (before it was reworked by Mahindra) had an uncanny resemblance to older Jeep models including the CJ-3. Mahindra for its part tried to claim that the Roxor was subject to old but still ongoing agreements that it had with two of Jeep’s prior owners, Willys and the defunct AMC Corporation. Those fore-mentioned agreements allowed Mahindra to build a separate derivative in the Indian market called the Thar, and it appears that Mahindra even had agreements with Chrysler itself going as far back as 2009.
Mahindra for its part did reveal that it was open to changing the Roxor’s design, and attempted to do so early last year with a refresh (pictured) that largely eliminated many of the original Jeep derived design cues. This included an all new front grille design that featured all new oval shape openings as well as new body color accents. The ruling also struck a blow to the Roxor’s manufacturing process, since the UTV is partially assembled in India, before it is shipped over to the U.S. for final assembly at Mahindra’s plant in Auburn Hills, Michigan. That plant was part of a $230 million dollar investment Mahindra launched back in 2017, and was part of a broader plan to bring the Roxor to the U.S. market.
While this ruling does appear to bring one chapter of the Roxor’s legal fight to a close, Mahindra appears to still be considering its options. The company is considering an appeal of the ruling to a federal circuit court, and released a separate statement revealing that the company is “resolute in its position that the Roxor does not dilute or violate Jeep’s trade dress.” We look forward to seeing what happens next since the Roxor is a cog in the Indian firm’s larger plan to compete in the U.S. market.
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