The Detriot-built not for street use side-by-side called the Mahindra Roxor is a favorite around here because it delivers on the promise of an old-school back to basics off-road experience. It does that by cribbing most of itself from a Willys Civilian Jeep, though none of the Roxor’s dimensions are exactly Willys, and none of the parts are carry overs.
It’s that visual similarity that rubs Fiat Chrysler the wrong way, and has caused the company to pursue a lawsuit for the last two years claiming the Roxor infringes on FCA’s distinctive Jeep vehicle trade dress. And by trade dress, they mean visual cues that make people identify a Jeep as a Jeep. Namely:
(i) A boxy body shape with flat appearing vertical side and rear body panels ending at about the same height as the hood;
(ii) Substantially flat hood with curved side edges that tapers to be narrower at the front;
(iii) Trapezoidal front wheel wells with front fenders or fender flares that extend beyond the front of the grille;
(iv) Flat appearing grille with vertical elongated grille slots and a trapezoidal outline that curves around round headlamps positioned on the upper part of the grille;
(v) Exterior hood latches;
(vi) Door cutouts above a bottom portion of the side body panels
U.S. International Trade Commission Administrative Law Judge Cameron Elliot has sided with FCA on this issue, agreeing that the Roxor infringes upon those trade dress issues, according to a report from Carscoops. Upon ruling, the judge recommended the USITC grant FCA’s order to exclude the infringing vehicles and components from entry into the U.S. Further, he recommended a cease-and-desist order be granted preventing Mahindra from selling any more Roxors, including already-built models in dealer showrooms.
When deposed, Mahindra Automotive North America CEO and President Rick Haas agreed that the Roxor “has the appearance of a CJ”. Admitting that “The CJ is a Jeep brand vehicle.” Welp, case closed, then.
The USITCA still needs to confirm Judge Elliot’s findings with a 60-day review period. FCA says it believes both orders will be confirmed by March 13th, 2020, once the review period has ended.
To make matters worse for Mahindra, Fiat Chrysler is bringing a separate infringement case against the Roxor in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Michigan. The trial, slated to begin in May of 2020, pits FCA against the Indian automaker again, this time “seeking an injunction to prohibit future sales of infringing vehicles, as well as disgorgement of Mahindra’s profits from the infringing Roxor.”
The Mahindra is wholesome and good off-road fun. This ruling is dumb and bad. That’s my take.