We reported earlier that Mahindra & Mahindra had run into a legal battle with Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) for their recently launched Roxor off-roader over violations of intellectual property rights. This isn’t the first time the FCA has tried to pull the plug on Mahindra’s operations in North America, going back as far as 2008 when Mahindra had to redesign their Mahindra Scorpio based pick up truck after Chrysler alleged that their design had been violated. In this case, its the Mahindra Roxor, which is a slightly redesigned version of the Mahindra Thar (albeit smaller in footprint) aimed at use at farms and as a recreational off-roader. The recent filing by the FCA has prompted the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to initiate the process of investigation that would ultimately decide the fate of the Roxor. Subsequently, if the FCA does win the litigation, it will likely derail Mahindra’s 14-year plan in North America for the sale and manufacture of utility vehicles.
Mahindra however, do not appear to be taking this sitting down, clearing the air around the Mahindra Roxor saying that it is and was always intended to be a utility vehicle for off-road use and does not compete with any of the FCA’s vehicles. Earlier in September, Mahindra & Mahindra had asked the ITC to refer to 2009 Pact, and concurrently conduct a 100- expedited consideration of the case. The 2009 agreement by the FCA states that Fiat Chrysler would never bring claims based around the grille design so long as it was approved by the FCA. The Roxor’s grille has already been approved.
In response, Mahindra has said that as a result of this litigation that breaches terms of the contract set by the FCA in 2009, MANA has been caused and will be caused irreparable harm, including loss of goodwill, harm to reputation and loss of fair competition and competitive advantage.
Analysts studying the case have said the outcome of the case would be difficult to predict and lie largely in the hands of the US Government. Considering that the FCA’s claims based on the shape of the Roxor shoved the litigation into the realm of ambiguity. A large part of this litigation comes from the fact that the Roxor does share its ancestry with the Willy’s Jeep that Mahindra brought to India post-Independence. However, there on forth Mahindra have independently worked on the basic outlay, engineering and mechanics of the vehicle. Leaving the case open for speculation until the US government takes a proper stand over the next 45 days.