Jeep moves court against Mahindra Thar in Australia over design
The contentious relationship between Stellantis's Jeep and homegrown SUV-maker Mahindra has shown itself again, this time in the Australian market. The American brand has begun legal proceedings to stop the launch of the Mahindra Thar in the Australian market, and has demanded a 90-day written notice period from Mahindra, to the start of the homologation process, if the latter does plan to launch the 4x4 in Australia.
Under the Australian Consumer Law proceedings it has initiated, Jeep has alleged has accused Mahindra of "misleading and deceptive conduct", "passing off", and "infringement of registered designs" with the Mahindra Thar. A Mahindra representative has countered this by saying that Jeep had pressed on with these charges after been provided with a written notice by the Indian carmaker earlier this year confirming it had no present intention of importing and selling the Thar in India. Mahindra has also asked for the pre-homologation notice period to be shortened to 45 days.
The court has concluded that there is no present indication that Mahindra plans to launch the Thar in Australia but has also asked Mahindra to justify its appeal to shorten the notice period by half. The case will heard further on May 21. Read our review of the Mahindra Thar here.
Stellantis issued a statement on the matter saying, "FCA US LLC and FCA Australia Pty Ltd, both wholly-owned subsidiaries of Stellantis N.V, have requested that Mahindra immediately cease and desist from all activities related to the import, distribution and sale of the Thar product in Australia. FCA firmly believes that Mahindra is seeking to intentionally infringe the intellectual property rights of our Jeep brand, specifically the Jeep Wrangler. FCA will pursue all available avenues to stop Mahindra from continuing to make misleading and deceptive representations in relation to our Jeep brand, pass off their Thar as a Jeep Wrangler and infringe our design rights."
Meanwhile, a Mahindra representative told Tech2, "We have filed our reply in the proceeding commenced by FCA against us. There are no plans to launch the current model of the Thar in Australia. We would provide adequate notice to FCA, as is requested if we were to launch any future model of the Thar in Australia."
Mahindra had begun pre-launch activities with the Mahindra Thar in Australia last year with one prototype being brought into the country for testing. The company had also put up a page on its website to gauge buyer interest. However, this page and the testing activities seem to have been put on hold. The Mahindra Thar's popularity in the Indian market has far surpassed the company's expectations and the carmaker has been working to ramp up production to meet this demand. The global semiconductor shortage and other supply issues exasperated by the COVID19 pandemic have made this difficult.
This comes after a long-drawn court battle in the US market between the two firms over the Mahindra Roxor. Mahindra eventually redesigned the Roxor to look less like a Jeep and rebranded the product as well.
Source: Drive, Tech2
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