Back to Court: General Motors Sues Ford Over Hands-Free Driving Feature Name

While Ford might be very excited about its new BlueCruise hands-on tech, GM is not thrilled about it. Reuters and The Drive report that General Motors has filed a lawsuit to bar Ford Motor Co from using “Cruise” in the BlueCruise name. Obviously, Ford objects to these claims. Hence a legal battle is on its way.

General Motors sues Ford over hands-free driving feature name

GM filed a lawsuit on July 23, accusing Ford of benefiting from the positive press about its hands-free Super Cruise technology and Cruise. Together with its autonomous-taxi subsidiary Cruise, General Motors argues that “BlueCruise” closely resembles the Super Cruise moniker. This is a challenge on more than one front, given GM’s self-driving subsidiary is called Cruise. GM goes further to claim that it is the only company legally allowed to use the word “cruise” for anything associated with automated driving.

In the Reuters’ report, GM officials strongly believe that Ford knew exactly what they were doing.  In addition to trademark infringement, Ford was also accused of engaging in unfair competition. While General Motors had hoped to settle the matter amicably out of court, they explained that Ford was not cooperative, so they were left with no other option than to defend their brand.

Ford’s argument

Ford’s official representative in the case said that the lawsuit was “meritless and frivolous.”  He argued that drivers had acquired a full understanding of cruise control for decades, as every automaker offers it. The representative added that cruise is simply a common phrase used to describe compatibility. According to an article in Car And Driver, Ford felt the attack was personal. Ford mentioned that GM didn’t have any issues with other top brands using ‘cruise’ for their products in their defense.

A hotly contested niche

Ford Motor Company and General Motors are the leading automobile brands in the United States. In addition to being leaders, they are strong competitors in the automobile industry. Ford’s most superior brand is Ford, while General Motor’s top brand is Chevrolet. Semi-autonomous features such as hand-free technology have proven to be hotly contested battlegrounds, as automobile companies strive to boost prices and offer drivers high-tech bragging rights. They are also viewed as a leeway to improve the comfort of their customers with their self-driving cars. 

The fact that Ford is getting so much press on this issue does not come as a surprise. Both automobile giants companies know that hands-free driving is an important selling point for their vehicles. It is also common knowledge that the two brands have been fierce competitors for a very long time. Neither GM nor Ford wants to concede.

Ramifications of the lawsuit for GM and Ford

GM is mainly interested in protecting its IP. If GM were to win this lawsuit, it would not imply that other automobile companies would be prohibited from using the word “cruise” when describing their newly-invented autonomous technologies. However, it may slow down any automaker who wishes to use “cruise” when naming their automobiles.

If Ford wins the lawsuit, the ruling will restore the common understanding that “cruise” is a general term used to implore that the car controls a part of the driving system. The win would also mean that GM will have to develop additional strategies to stay on top of its game. Knowing how lawsuits go, there is no way of finding out what will happen until a ruling is made.

Ultimately, General Motors wants to stop Ford from using the name. According to an article in Reuters, Ford is still going on with its plans to roll out BlueCruise to Mustang Mach-E electric SUV and F-150 pickup later in the year.

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