U.S. appeals court upholds import ban on Mahindra's Roxor vehicles

Mahindra Automotive North America quality control workers inspect ROXOR off-road vehicles at the MANA assembly plant in Auburn Hills
Mahindra Automotive North America quality control workers inspect ROXOR off-road vehicles at the MANA Plant in Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
  • Fed. Circ. rejects Mahindra argument against Jeep trademark rights
  • Court also okays sale of post-2020 Mahindra Roxors

(Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday rejected Indian auto maker Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd's bid to overturn an import ban secured by Fiat Chrysler on some of Mahindra's Roxor off-road vehicles.

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to affirm the International Trade Commission's ban without comment comes just two days after oral arguments in the case.

Mahindra's appeal challenged the ITC's findings that its pre-2020 Roxors violated Fiat Chrysler's trademark rights by causing consumer confusion with its Jeep Wrangler. Its lawyers told a skeptical three-judge panel that the Wrangler's design was not entitled to trademark protection because it was based on the unprotected design of a World War II-era military vehicle.

The short Federal Circuit ruling also upheld the ITC's decision to allow Mahindra to continue selling redesigned post-2020 Roxor vehicles, which the commission said were different enough to avoid confusion with Fiat Chrysler's vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler, now part of Amsterdam-based Stellantis, has separately challenged a related Detroit federal court ruling at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a case that is still pending.

A Mahindra spokesperson said in a statement that the decision is "a significant judgment in favor of consumers."

Fiat Chrysler and its attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The cases are Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd v. International Trade Commission, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 20-2173 and FCA US LLC v. Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, No. 21-1687.

For Mahindra: Dimitrios Drivas of White & Case

For Fiat Chrysler: Frank Cimino of Venable

(NOTE: This story has been updated with comment from Mahindra.)

Read more:

U.S. appeals court wary of Mahindra's bid to nix Roxor import ban

Fiat Chrysler tells U.S. appeals court redesigned 4x4s still copy Jeep design

U.S. regulator modifies ban to allow Mahindra to sell new Roxor models in Jeep case

U.S. regulator sides with FCA in Jeep trade case against Mahindra

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets, for Reuters Legal. He has previously written for Bloomberg Law and Thomson Reuters Practical Law and practiced as an attorney. Contact: 12029385713