Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) does not plan to launch its Thar SUV in Australia, the Indian company said after Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which owns the Jeep brand, commenced legal proceedings against the Mumbai-based firm for alleged design infringement.
FCA approached the Federal Court of Australia which on May 11 heard the legal representative of both the companies. The Italian-American car maker alleges that Thar’s design and styling, including the front grille, front fender and bumper is uncannily similar to its iconic off-roader Jeep Wrangler.
After its launch in India, M&M started selling the Thar in other countries in recent months and Australia was one of the countries which was on the radar for the off-road SUV as per local advertisements put out by M&M.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), which owns the Jeep brand, sought to restrain M&M from launching the Thar in Australia as well as provide at least 90 days written notice if it wanted to launch the model in that country.
“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,” said a spokesperson of M&M.
“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,” FCA said in a statement.
This is not the first time that M&M and FCA have been engaged in a legal battle. In mid-2018 FCA Automobiles US had filed a complaint against M&M against the Indian company’s plans of launching the Roxor off-road vehicle. FCA alleged that the Roxor infringed on the original design of the Willy’s Jeep.
M&M was forced to completely overhaul the front design of the Roxor before the US regulator gave a go-ahead for allowing its sales in the US in early 2021.
Launched in August 2020 the latest generation Thar is a second-generation model featuring altered design and styling compared to the first-generation Thar which was launched by M&M in 2010. The Thar is the fourth highest-selling model for M&M after the Bolero, XUV300 and Scorpio. In April the Thar had clocked domestic sales of around 3,400 units.