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- The lower court should have held Mahindra’s Roxas to a higher standard.
- The new Roxors should keep a “safe distance” from Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep design.
(Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler got a second chance on Monday to permanently block U.S. sales of the redesigned Roxar off-road vehicle made by Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, which is contesting the claim. It is said to have copied the design of Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a federal court in Detroit applied the wrong standard when it found Mahindra’s post-2020 Roxors were unlikely to cause confusion to consumers.
A Mahindra spokesperson said it was confident the case would result in its favor “in line with previous decisions”. Fiat Chrysler’s parent company Stellantis NV declined to comment on the decision.
Fiat Chrysler sued Mahindra in 2018 in a Michigan court and the U.S. International Trade Commission over its Roxor design, arguing that it copied trademarked elements of its Jeeps.
A federal court in Detroit barred Mahindra from selling Roxors before 2020, but rejected its bid to stop sales of a redesigned version of its off-road-only vehicle. U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain’s decision was based on the ITC’s ruling that the Roxor did not infringe Fiat Chrysler’s trademark rights because the average person would “instantly know” that it was not a Jeep.
But the 6th Circuit said Monday that the court should have held Mahindra to a higher standard because it was already a known infringer. Mahindra’s redesign needed to keep a “safe distance” from Jeep’s design, U.S. Circuit Judge Helen White wrote for the three-judge panel.
“Since a court may enjoin a non-infringing product under the safe distance principle, the simple fact that a known infringer’s redesigned product is non-infringing supports this conclusion. does not mean that the safe distance rule should not apply,” White said. .
The appeals court sent the case back to the Detroit court to consider whether the new Roxors kept a “safe distance” from Jeep’s design.
The case is Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. v. FCAU US LLC, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-2605.
For Mahindra: Mary Hyde of Hongman
For FCA: Frank Cimino of Venable
Fiat Chrysler tells US appeals court that redesigned 4x4s still copy Jeep design.
The US regulator amended the ban to allow Mahindra to sell new Roxar models in the Jeep case.
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