When the Mahindra Roxor side-by-side was first announced, many people were quick to liken its design to the Jeep Wrangler -- and for good reason, as the two did look similar. Trouble is, Jeep parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also noticed this, and it filed a complaint against the Indian company in an attempt to prevent this vehicle from being sold in the US. Now, two years later, it appears FCA has gotten its way.
The US International Trade Commission on Friday issued a limited exclusion order against Mahindra (PDF) and its North American counterpart in favor of FCA. This order blocks the importation of the Roxor, its parts and components over concerns that it infringes on FCA's design trademarks, specifically with regards to the Jeep Wrangler. The infringement covers six specific parts of the Roxor's design, but not the grille, despite FCA's claims of similarity there, as well.
The general idea behind FCA's claim is that Mahindra is piggybacking on the continued success of the road-legal Jeep Wrangler in order to sell its Roxor, which is classified as a side-by-side for off-road use only. The Italian-led conglomerate believed that sales of the Roxor in the US would diminish the Wrangler's value.
The Roxor's lack of road-legal status was touted as a possible defense against any infringement, but it appears both the ITC and the courts disagree. Bloomberg Quint notes that the Trump administration can intervene, but it's unlikely.
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Mahindra did not immediately return a request for comment. An FCA spokesperson said in a statement the company is "pleased" with the ruling, but wants "to study the decision further before offering any substantive comment."
It should be noted that Mahindra has dramatically redesigned the Roxor's front end for the 2020 model year, eliminating a great deal of its visual similarities with the Wrangler, even though the rest of the body definitely has shades of Willys in it still. The new front end is closer to that of an older FJ Land Cruiser, which could very well open up yet another can of worms, although vintage Land Cruisers bear no resemblance to current models of the same name.
The Roxor starts around $17,000. For that price, you get a steel-bodied off-roader with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. It puts out just 144 pound-feet of torque, but that's enough for a maximum tow rating of 3,490 pounds. The vehicles are partially assembled in India before being shipped to the US, where final assembly takes place. Mahindra claims these new models are outside the realm of infringement, and the company said in January that it will continue working with the ITC to ensure its vehicles can be sold in the US.