Update: We contacted Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to get their side of the story and just received a response.
In an email communication, Mike Palese, Manager, Legal Communications, FCA North America, told Carscoops that the reports are incorrect. “The ITC has not rendered a decision. What the reports do is mistakenly report a brief filed by a party in the litigation as a decision or in some cases predictive of a decision. Neither is the case.”
FCA also sent Carscoops a copy of the company’s U.S. International Trade Commission’s post-hearing reply (see it in the gallery), in which it argues against the point made in the brief used in the reports coming out of India .
“Mahindra has failed to carry its burden in showing that all of FCA’s claims fall under the narrow scope of the 2009 Agreement. The Investigation against Respondents should therefore proceed.
In plain English, FCA says that the reports coming from India are falsely portraying specific findings in a post-hearing reply brief from one side (Mahindra) as either a final court decision or as a strong sign that the court will side with the Indian carmaker. In the same way, one could use the post-hearing reply brief from FCA to make the opposite case.
Palese told us that FCA expects a final decision to be made this month.
-Original story follows below-
Mahindra is allegedly inching closer to being able to sell the Roxor off-roader in the United States following an investigation from the US Trade Commission, according to several Indian news outlets, including Moneycontrol and AutocarIndia..
The team from the US Trade Commission was investigating claims from FCA that the Mahindra Roxor violated its intellectual property rights.
In the beginning of August, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) filed a complaint against Mahindra & Mahindra and its subsidiary Mahindra Automotive North America claiming the front grille of the Roxor infringed the company’s intellectual property rights as it closely resembles the grille as the Jeep Wrangler.
Additionally, it was claimed that the Roxor has the same boxy body shape and “flat-appearing vertical sides and rear body ending at about the same height as the hood,” as the Jeep
According to the reports [note – we’ve now learned this is from Mahindra’s post hearing reply brief], the investigation from the US Trade Commission staff said that FCA is now “contractually barred from pursuing this investigation,” any further.
“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 added.
If the U.S. Trade Commission accepts the investigative findings, then it will (likely) clear the Roxor for sale in the States.
The case heated up a month after FCA filed its complaint in August, as Mahindra fired back, saying the Jeep brand owner’s complaint was “without merit” and commenced proceedings in a Michigan court to enforce a design agreement that it signed with Chrysler in 2009.
This 2009 agreement arose from a disagreement between Chrysler Group LLC and Mahindra after the Indian company planned to import vehicles to the U.S. with a seven-slot grille design. Chrysler asserted that this design was confusingly similar to Jeep’s signature grille design.
Over the course of 12 months, the two went back and forth until Mahindra agreed to instead use a grille design with five vertical slots. As part of the finalized agreement, Chrysler said it wouldn’t oppose Mahindra selling vehicles in the U.S. that use the five-slot grille.
While FCA had claimed that the Roxor could hurt its sales of Jeep models, the Roxor isn’t actually street legal in the U.S.