Mahindra and Jeep entangled in a global legal tussle over Thar design

May 27, 2021 2 min read
Mahindra and Jeep entangled in a global legal tussle over Thar design

Mahindra Thar looks like a younger brother of Jeep Wrangler. But can it sell like hot cakes in other parts of the world as it sells in India? Jeep says NO!

The latest generation of Mahindra Thar has always looked like a doppelgänger of Jeep Wrangler. The resemblance is not just a coincidence. Despite being a success in India, it is always questioned by automobile enthusiasts for its copied design features. Riding on its success in India, Mahindra & Mahindra was apparently planning to launch Thar in Australia. But, not anymore?

Why Mahindra Thar is not Launched in Australia?

Stellantis, the owner of Jeep moved to court in Australia against Mahindra after an ad in a newspaper appeared. The ad was a sign that the company was getting ready to launch Thar in Australia. Due to Thar's uncanny resemblance with Jeep Wrangler, Stellantis believes that it has infringed company's trademark and trade dress.

However, Mahindra has confirmed that the news of Thar launch in Australia is baseless. The Indian automaker has also agreed to give FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) a three months notice before it plans to launch Thar.

Stellantis is a global alliance between fiat Chrysler and Peugeot Citroen group.

"We're seeing very strong demand for the all-new Thar 2020 in India, therefore have no immediate plans for launch of the current variant of the Thar in markets outside India. As a result, it was pointless to engage in a litigation at this stage," a company spokesperson said. "When we decide to launch any new variant of the Thar in Australia, we will provide 90 days' notice to FCA and take all steps to protect our rights to market and sell the product. This has no bearing on our future plans in Australia as we continue to pursue expansion of our business across a number of vehicle categories."

Mahindra was earlier a licensee for assembling Jeep vehicles in India in the 1950s. However, in the recent history, the two automakers are sparring with each other too often. Last year, FCA won a crucial lawsuit against Mahindra & Mahindra in the US that blocked its strategy of importing the Roxor off road vehicle in the USA market.

FCA convinced lawmakers that Roxor is based on the previous generation Thar and is a copy of Jeep Wrangler. Hence, it infringes on multiple trademarks of Jeep. When Mahindra launched Thar in the Indian market to stellar reviews, Stellantis ran a cheeky TVC titled "The Original" that was made to take a dig on the newly launched off-roader. FCA is clear on its stand to block entry of Mahindra Thar in all the major markets globally where it has a strong presence.

"FCA is pleased that Mahindra has conceded and undertaken that they will not import, market or sell the current Thar vehicle in Australia and will provide prior notice to FCA before bringing any future model or variant of the Thar into Australia," Stellantis said in a statement to the media. "This outcome illustrates our commitment to protect the iconic trade dress and trademarks of the Jeep brand here and overseas, and continue to engage the passion our customers and loyal Jeep community in Australia have for these iconic vehicles."
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