Mahindra v FCA case isn’t over, but decision expected soon

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The vs. FCA is trucking on despite some reports from India that say otherwise. It was widely reported over the weekend that Mahindra had come out on the winning side of the U.S. International Trade Commission’s investigation. However, that’s not the case, and says it expects a final to be made this month.

Apparently, the reports used a brief filed by Mahindra that doesn’t actually have any bearing on what the final decision in court is. The briefing was rather explicit in its language, but FCA released a similar brief following hearings. We’ll list them both for you below.

Mahindra: “FCA is contractually barred from pursuing this investigation if Mahindra’s vehicles contain or use the approved grille design. The evidence shows that Mahindra’s Roxor uses the approved grille design. Thus, the record supports a finding that Mahindra met its burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that FCA is contractually barred from pursuing this investigation.”

FCA: “Mahindra has failed to carry its burden in showing that all of FCA’s claims fall under the narrow scope of the 2009 Agreement. The Investigation against Respondents should therefore proceed.”

These statements represent opinions of both companies, but not actual decisions made by the U.S. ITC.

In case you were still wondering, this whole battle is about the Mahindra Roxor’s front grille design. FCA says is looks too much like a Jeep, and is worried the Roxor will cut into Wrangler sales. The Mahindra Roxor isn’t road-legal, which would make it difficult to steal actual Jeep sales from FCA, and there was also an agreement signed in 2009 between the two companies related to this issue. FCA agreed then not to bring about infringement claims against Mahindra as long as it used a grille design that differs from the classic Jeep trademark grille FCA approved of. One could argue Mahindra’s grille is different than Jeep’s design because it only has five slats instead of seven, but it sure does look a lot like an old Willys.

It will be another month before official word is out on this case, and we’ll be following to see whether Mahindra will be allowed to sell its fun, diesel off-roader in the U.S.

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